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How is your hospital reusing/conserving PPE?

by KT1982 KT1982, BSN (New) New Nurse

Specializes in Emergency Nursing. Has 15 years experience.

I'm curious, with the national PPE shortage, how other hospitals are coping with this?

I work in a suburban ED that is part of a larger health system in the Twin Cities MN. Currently we wear surgical masks for all patient care other than COVID pt's, and n95 mask, face shield, hair bouffant, gown and gloves for COVID. We, of course, ran short of N95, surgical masks, and now gowns. We are allowed one surgical mask per shift, and have started a rotation of N95 masks - one N95 a the beginning of the shift, at the end of the shift store it in a paper bag for 5 days then reuse it for another shift, so one mask for 2 shifts. I'm not sure how they decided on 5 days being safe to reuse....Also the charge nurse has to ask security to get more N95's out of a locked storage area so they keep track of how often we are going through the boxes.

Now we are running short on yellow contact precaution gowns (supposedly we use 15000 gowns system wide per day), so we get one gown per patient and have to doff the gown in the hallway outside of the pt room and hang it on a hook to reuse it. These gowns of course are flimsy and tear easily especially at the neck so it tends to fall forward exposing the top half of our torsos. Inpatient units get one gown per shift per pt. We also asked about having hospital scrubs to wear in the ED but were told no due to the inability to increase laundry service.

I'm wondering how everyone else is handling the shortage and how they are reusing or conserving PPE? Is anyone out there utilizing cloth gowns and washing them vs reusing the disposable gowns? Thanks for your input everyone!