Amid Vaccine Rollout, PPE Shortage Continues

January 19, 2021

As many healthcare workers celebrate the availability of coronavirus vaccines nationwide, some of those first in line for inoculation fear that the optimism stirred by the vaccine will overshadow a crisis that has drawn scant public attention — the ongoing shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) that has led frontline workers to ration their use of the disposable gloves, gowns and N95 respirator masks.

In March 2020, along with reports of hospitals being overwhelmed amid the Covid-19 pandemic came news of the facilities also being woefully under-resourced. Hospitals struggling to get access to equipment like ventilators also were lacking basic personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks and gloves.

Though dire reports of PPE shortages have died down, groups on the ground report that the problem has not gone away, according to MedCityNews. Smaller healthcare facilities and physician offices still struggle to get the PPE they need. In fact, requests to one collection group, Get Us PPE, increased by more than 200 percent between November and December, says Dr. Shikha Gupta, the group’s executive director. The group was meant to be a short-term endeavor, Gupta said. But more than 10 months later, it is still going strong, having delivered 6.4 million pieces of PPE at no cost to facilities across the country.

Initially, the requests coming in included big-name academic medical centers and urban health systems. But now, the requests are coming mostly from non-hospital facilities, such as community clinics and rural health centers, though there is some need among community hospitals as well, Gupta said.

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