As healthcare workers struggle to find safety gear, some go on extreme hunt

Supply shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic have left some healthcare workers struggling to obtain safety gear.

A June 11 NPR report details nursing home workers expecting to get boxes of masks, eyewear and gowns from the federal government, but instead receiving boxes containing surgical masks or cloth face coverings that aren't designed for medical use and boxes missing promised items. The report also cites federal records showing that 3,213 out of more than 15,000 U.S. nursing homes reported in the latter half of May they had less than a week's worth of safety gear such as masks, gowns, gloves and eye protectors.

Supply shortages have also affected hospitals during the pandemic. In early June, the FDA authorized emergency use of some personal protective equipment to help address those shortages.

But, some healthcare workers at community clinics, nursing homes and independent physicians have gone to extreme measures to address shortages. For instance, the director of the Florida Association of Community Health Centers taught himself basic Chinese and waited outside past midnight for a vendor truck to deliver masks for clinics, according to Kaiser Health News. Others reportedly struck deals with "shady characters" to get the supplies they need.

Read the full NPR report here and the full KHN report here.


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