Health care workers ask public for critical supplies like masks, gloves, gowns

Shara Dae Howard
March 23, 2020 - 6:30 pm

Sign up for KYW Newsradio's daily newsletter for the latest on the coronavirus pandemic across the Philadelphia region.

___

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Health care providers say they are fighting the war on COVID-19 with not enough equipment or protection, so they’ve turned to the public for help.

Marion Leary, director of innovation at Penn Nursing, said as the cases of coronavirus rise, doctors, nurses and other health care workers on the frontlines of the novel virus are facing a critical shortage of personal protective gear — also known as PPE supplies — to protect themselves.

“These PPE supplies include critical N95 respirator masks, gloves, gowns, goggles and regular procedural masks,” she said.

Related: Over 1.5 billion globally asked to stay home to escape virus

Leary, who is also a board member of the Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs and Leaders (SONSIEL), said the group is putting out a call to action.

“We’re asking the public and businesses such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, dentist offices, vets, and construction companies to share their PPE items with local hospitals and providers,” she said.

“Hospitals and health care providers already are experiencing rationing and shortages,” read a statement by SONSIEL on its GoFundMe page. “This is true even at the most-well-resourced hospitals in the Boston and New York regions and all over the country; it is prevalent in suburban and rural health care facilities as well. No facility is sufficiently equipped.”

Without these supplies, Leary said health care workers could expose not only themselves to the virus, but their families. Until they receive the supplies they need, health care providers are being asked to reuse masks and bandanas.

The Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management is also helping to coordinate these efforts. The city is asking for donations of these critical items — in the manufacturer's original packaging, unopened. Homemade products will not be accepted.

Residents can reach out to the city regarding PPE donations here.

Mental health professionals offer free care for colleagues, too

Mental health professionals in Bala Cynwyd are offering therapy to health care workers coping with anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Linda Welsh, director of the Anxiety and Agoraphobia Treatment Center, said she’s not just worried about their physical well-being, but also the mental health of those working in area hospitals or COVID-19 testing sites.

“We are aware of what kind of stress all medical professionals are under, including those who work in hospitals and nursing homes and have frontline contact and have to return home to partners and families,” she said.

Welsh and her staff wanted to contribute in a substantive way, so they’re offering free care to treat those experiencing anxiety during the pandemic.

“We at the center have decided to offer — as a public service to those on the frontlines — mental health service,” she reiterated. 

But what about social distancing? Welsh is already ahead of that.

Workers can schedule anywhere from six to 10 individual sessions that will be held from home over the phone or online.