The shortage of personal protective equipment is not only noticeable nationwide but also in local hospitals.
“Equipment for all medical facilities throughout the United States is extremely limited and we feel that here as well,” said Erin Riley, spokeswoman for AdventHealth Central Texas, the hospital in Killeen. “However, we are constantly working with AdventHealth’s nationwide network to make sure our employees have the equipment and supplies they need.”
Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes face and surgical masks like N95 masks, eye protection like goggles, glasses and face shields as well as gowns and gloves.
While hospitals were not able to give specifics on the actual amount of supply they have, necessary equipment is still available to medical staff at the moment.
Baylor Scott & White spokesman Deke Jones provided a statement on supply shortage via email.
“We are working around the clock to replenish the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to protect our patients and staff,” the statement said. “Surgical masks are available to all staff in patient care areas ... Related to the supply of ventilators, we are monitoring the situation and exploring opportunities should the need for additional ventilators arise.”
According to a statement by Seton Medical Center Harker Heights, the hospital has PPE supplies and medical equipment to meet current needs.
“We continue to monitor these supplies across our system to ensure appropriate allocation to meet the needs of our team members and patients,” said Lucy Taylor, spokeswoman for Seton Medical Center Harker Heights.
Similar measures are taken at Baylor Scott & White Health.
“To ensure we have adequate resources in the weeks ahead, we have implemented conservation guidelines to safely reuse or extend the use of masks using CDC guidance,” the statement said. “We also have secured agreements with local manufacturers to begin producing reusable gowns and masks out of approved fabrics. In several weeks, we will have enough supply to begin disinfecting gowns and masks daily using an evidence-based cleaning procedure.”
Although supplies are short, local hospitals feel well-prepared for the upcoming weeks and the expected peak in cases thanks to an originally slow rise in cases.
“We were blessed with nearly one month’s preparation time in anticipation of this event,” Riley said. “We used this time wisely to train staff, set up systems, and gather equipment and supplies that will support our efforts should the need arise. We are updating our practices daily and ensuring we have the most up-to-date treatment and safety protocols intact for patients and for our staff based on the information we are receiving from our various health care partners.”
The local hospitals said they have dedicated, multidisciplinary teams that are working with local, regional and national health care partners, focused on workforce issues, supplies, equipment and capacity options.
“We have a staff and facility that is fully prepared to take care of the patients we will encounter throughout our response to COVID 19,” Riley said.
Contrary to supply shortages, the number of hospital staff remains the same at AdventHealth.
“Our staffing in all areas is about the same as last year, and our team of nearly 1,200 staff members and doctors is prepared to provide whole-person, compassionate health care to those who need it,” Riley said.
Baylor Scott & White Health has added staff members in preparation of a possible increase in patients.
“Even before the virus arrived in our service area, Baylor Scott & White welcomed applications from retired clinicians,” the statement said. “We continue that effort as well as active recruitment of new graduates of all disciplines.”
The Herald also sent questions to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center about the Fort Hood hospital’s supply of N95 masks and other PPE. Those questions were not returned by presstime.