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Coronavirus and Supply Shortages

Disasters   (3,676 Views | 39 Replies)

adventure_rn is a BSN and specializes in NICU, PICU.

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Have any facilities out there experienced supply shortages due to the coronavirus? We've been regularly running out of surgical masks, supposedly due to the epidemic; the wonky replacements we've been using are pretty ridiculous (plus uncomfortable), and even those are starting to run low, too. It seems hilariously ironic to me that we're short on surgical masks, seeing as they don't actually protect against coronavirus...the people who are buying them up aren't even benefiting from them, and consequently hospitals that actually need them are running short.

If/when the virus spreads to other countries (including the US), I'm sure the shortages will only get worse. I'm personally not super excited about the thought of spending time in an N-95 respirator, although I'm fortunate that exposure in my specialty would be pretty unlikely.

It reminds me a bit of the supply shortages that happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria back in 2017 following the shut-down of affected medial equipment manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico. Our facility was running low on essentials like normal saline for months (I remember we even got an email that said not to start patients on IV fluids unless we absolutely had to). It's pretty crazy to think that hospitals can literally run out of something as basic as face masks or saline due to international disasters. 

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Rose_Queen has 15 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in OR, education.

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Haven't seen any shortages where I am, but we did suspend fit testing of N95 masks for the time being.

I have seen some posts on OR NurseLink (AORN's boards for OR nurses) that some facilities are starting to cancel elective surgeries due to mask shortages.

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TriciaJ has 39 years experience as a RN and specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

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Apparently China is a source country for medications and medical supplies.  Their productivity is currently severely hampered by the outbreak, contributing to shortages.

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juniper222 has 2 years experience and specializes in Pre Nursing.

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I have seen pictures of cats and dogs with masks on in China.  The panic that seems to be gripping the globe will undoubtedly cause people to do stupid things.  Of course when one wears a surgical mask, most of the air goes around it rendering it worthless against an airborne virus.  Lets just hope this thing doesn't mutate into something far worse. Hopefully it will run its course by the end of Spring.

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NRSKarenRN has 40 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion.

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Took nine months for the SARS virus to run it's course.

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Sbhayes09 has 1 years experience as a ADN, RN and specializes in Ambulatory Care.

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I had a patient tell me that the local hospital supply store is out and isn't sure when they'll get them back in. He asked our clinic to give him a box of masks 😬

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LikeTheDeadSea has 6 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in School Nursing.

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My nail salon said that the supplier that they order supplies from is out of masks. (They are worn when doing using filing techniques because of nail/acrylic dust, etc.)

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12 Posts; 375 Profile Views

According to the CDC the spread of the virus is respiratory droplet/ contact, not airborne. So wouldn't a surgical mask be sufficient in protection? not a N-95?

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hopefulRN'17 has 2 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

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Yes, I work in a Dental School and we are running into mask shortages.  We had to lock them up because patients started to steal them.  =(

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nursej22 has 30 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in med/surg,CV.

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When I look on the CDC page for Healthcare Supply of PPE https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/healthcare-supply-ppe.html it states that HCP should use airborne precautions, including N95. 

Our local health department has ordered additional masks that are due to arrive in May. We have a soon to expire stockpile that we are seeking approval from NIOSH to continue to use even after the expiration date. 

One of my TB patients who works at a manufacturing plant has been told to change their masks sparingly because they don't know when they can resupply. 

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hopefulRN'17 has 2 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

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1 hour ago, futurepedsnurse2020 said:

According to the CDC the spread of the virus is respiratory droplet/ contact, not airborne. So wouldn't a surgical mask be sufficient in protection? not a N-95?

The CDC is recommending that all healthcare workers adhere to the standard, contact, and airborne precautions. 

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54 minutes ago, hopefulRN'17 said:

The CDC is recommending that all healthcare workers adhere to the standard, contact, and airborne precautions. 

gotcha. It is for the general public that they don't recommend facemasks according to the CDC. Interesting!

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