Hospitals Taking an Innovative Approaches to Conserve Protective Personal Equipment
Due to increased worldwide demand and manufacturing issues due to the spread
of COVID-19, hospitals across the country are facing a shortage of medical
supplies (such as masks, gowns and gloves) known as personal protective
Providence St. Joseph Health’s supply chain team has been working
tirelessly to obtain PPE by every means possible, including placing large
orders with suppliers and applying for supplies from the National Emergency
Stockpile. In addition, our hospitals are also taking innovative approaches
to ensure our caregivers are protected and can care for patients safely,
including constructing their own face shields.
Medical staff wear face shields over face masks while treating patients
to protect against flying respiratory droplets that can transmit coronavirus,
such as from coughs and sneezes. Queen of the Valley currently has a sufficient
supply of face shields. In fact,
California’s Office of Emergency Services’ delivered approximately 5,000 face shields to Queen of the Valley
on March 31. However, to prepare in the event the hospital begins to run
low, a team of physical therapists decided to construct their own.
On April 1 and 2, a team of eight staff members at Queen of the Valley
assembled 413 face shields using off-the-shelf materials: marine-grade
vinyl, industrial tape, foam, and elastic. Some supplies were purchased
at craft stores and Home Depot and regional supply chain leads coordinated
the purchase and delivery of many of the bulk supplies. The team used
a prototype developed by Providence St. Joseph Health caregivers in Renton,
Wash. who assembled hundreds of face shields for Seattle-area hospitals
in March. They have enough raw materials on hand to make around 1,000
more, and plan to keep fabricating as long as they can.
The team, led by Mike Smith, manager of the physical therapy department,
and Jim Casciani, a retired engineer who worked for Nellcor Puritan Bennett
(a medical products company with product lines in respiratory care, etc.)
worked in an assembly line fashion in a large conference room in Queen
of the Valley’s Wellness Center on campus.
“Since we’re focused on caring for high acuity, post-operative
patients during this pandemic, we wanted to do something positive with
the time we would have spent helping patients with less acute needs. Especially
something that will help protect our nurses and other front-line staff,”
said Smith. “Our colleagues in Washington came up with the design
and were kind enough to share it. It uses basic materials and common tools.
Our great supply chain team was able to procure and coordinate delivery
of the supplies, and we set up a mini-factory where we could assemble
the shields while still keeping within the social distancing recommendations.”
After they were produced, the face shields were inspected and approved
by infection prevention specialists and clinical leaders.
“These face shields will safely protect our caregivers, so they can
effectively care for our patients and communities,” said Gianna
Peralta, Infection Prevention Manager. “We know that in order to
care for our patients, we must ensure the health and safety of caregivers.
In addition to constructing face shields, St. Joseph Health hospitals
have been working to conserve other forms of PPE such as N95 masks. Examples
include: shifting resources within our Providence St. Joseph Health family
of organizations to areas where the need is greatest; accepting donations
of new and unused N95 Masks (would prefer 3M 1860 and 1860S, but will
accept other brands) or surgical masks (any brand) and more.
“During this unprecedented time, we are pursuing different avenues
to augment and conserve our supplies so that we can meet the critical
need and support our frontline staff,” said Amy Herold, M.D., chief
medical officer. “The health and safety of patients and caregivers
are our top priorities. Supply conservation measures are an important
step in safeguarding care teams and the people we serve.”