Some doctors and nurses say they are starting to get put at risk due to a massive national shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). This shortage has led Providence to take matters into its own hand by making their own protective gear and seeking volunteers for help.
Providence has started the "100 Million Mask Challenge," where people are voluntarily making masks with materials from shelves and hardware stores.
Providence infection control has created face shields with items from their shelves like marine-grade vinyl, industrial tape, foam and elastic. They've also picked up materials from hardware stores before the volunteers came together to make masks.
"We are very close to being out of face shields," said Becca Bartles, executive director of infection prevention at Providence. "Masks, we're probably a couple of days away."
The lack of masks has even led to some physicians fearing they are infecting patients. An emergency room physician who became infected with the coronavirus told ProPublica there wasn't proper gowns or N95 respirator masks in the ER.
Several medical providers have been forced to change recommendations for protective equipment after the CDC modified its guidance on precautions health care workers should take during supply shortages. Mask restrictions have loosened, with some hospitals even recommending staff reuse disposable masks. CDC guidelines even list homemade masks as a last resort during shortages.
Nursing homes are at risk of running out of protective masks and gowns by next week. Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, recommended that doctors, dentists and hospitals postpone non-essential procedures in order to preserve supplies.
Vice President Mike Pence says several manufacturers are ramping up production efforts for masks, gloves and gowns. The CDC has requested masks from the country's Strategic National Stockpile, but it has less than five percent of the 300 million officials estimate the U.S. needs.
Providence has received over $500,000 donations towards the care during the COVID-19 response. If you'd like to donate, follow this link.