The CDC came out yesterday stating that if no surgical masks are available, bandanas will be better than nothing. They aren’t loosening their guidelines because the virus isn’t “that” contagious. They are loosening their guidelines because there isn’t enough PPE.
What is PPE? PPE stands for personal protective equipment.
This nurse is wearing the yellow gown, an eye shield and an N95 mask and likely gloves. In certain cases, only a gown and gloves are needed. An N95 mask is needed to protect us against airborne illnesses or if someone has an uncovered cough or sneeze. Sometimes a plain surgical mask is enough. These are all examples of personal protective equipment.
PPE is so important for healthcare providers to protect themselves and stay safe. PPE is non-negotiable. Without it, half of the workforce will be out with illness, more wounded than we already are. So we will have half the soldiers and no weapons in our war against COVID 19.
Pre COVID 19, this nurse would be required to “don” all PPE prior to entering a patient’s room for any reason if they have influenza, lice, bed bugs, measles, MRSA, VRE, C-diff etc.
Even if the nurse needed to check a blood pressure, she would get all new PPE to enter the room get the blood pressure, and then throw it all away. If the patient needed a glass of water, the nurse would don all PPE, give the patient the glass of water, and then throw it all away.
A nurse could very easily go through a dozen full sets of PPE in one shift. That doesn’t account for respiratory therapy, lab, visitors, CNAs, doctors, or other nurses.
There were certain instances where even if a person had a HISTORY of MRSA, not even an active MRSA (superbug) infection, staff would still be required to wear full PPE.
Now with COVID 19, much more contagious, much more serious, nurses are being asked to re use PPE. Nurses get one N95 mask (in scarce supply if you can even find one they went from 50 cents/mask to $50/mask), one eye-shield to clean and reuse, one gown to properly store and re wear, if our gloves are soiled we should wash them in the patient’s room and continue if we can without changing them (only changing between patients).
If we don’t have PPE to protect us from coronavirus, we don’t have PPE to protect us from patients with body lice or measles or whatever else comes through our ER doors.
The #getmePPE has been trending on twitter for a few days. Local hospitals have turned to the public asking dry wallers and feed mills to donate their unused N95 masks to local hospitals and facilities. Two major hospitals, just 2 hours South of here have turned to the public and asked them to sew surgical masks for healthcare staff. Here is the link to the original article:
For major medical authorities to put their tail between their legs and publicly profess their need for help and their sheer lack of unpreparedness is huge. They. Need. Help.
My friend used to work in the ER at one of the hospitals and was checking in with a former coworker of theirs who are now rationed down to one mask and once it is gone, come Monday there are no more supplies.
If we don’t have face masks, we don’t have face masks to hand out to patients who have COVID 19. If patients who have COVID 19 cannot wear a face mask, their risk of spreading the disease grow exponentially.
Initially, the CDC recommended that healthcare providers who were exposed to a patient with the virus without any PPE, they were to be EXCLUDED from work for a FULL 14 days. That’s what we are coming to. Check out this chart here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-risk-assesment-hcp.html
So my mom took to the sewing machine and this is what she whipped up in just a matter of hours.
As you can see these go OVER our N95 masks.
These fabric masks can go over our N95 masks to make them reusable. Previously, if our masks were splashed with bodily fluid, blood etc, we would have to throw them away. Now we can change out, wash, and reuse the fabric masks and preserve the N95 masks which is really our only true protection on the front lines of COVID19.With the critical shortage, these may eventually be our ONLY protection against COVID19.
I wish people could understand that this is an absolute last resort and everything we know about PPE (person protective equipment) is completely and totally irrelevant at this point. This is rock bottom.
You can read more about the creation of the masks on my mom’s blog – please direct all questions regarding the pattern or mask to either my mom’s blog or your local hospital if you’d like to make some.
Here is a link to mom’s blog posts about the masks:
Thanks for reading guys. I’ll keep you posted as the pandemic spreads. If you do nothing else to help, please just stay home.