Experts predict that we are projected to arrive at the peak or plateau of the COVID-19 pandemic on April 19. Until then, and even after, doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers are face-to-face with COVID-19 patients.

During this time, it is critical for healthcare workers to remain safe, but that can be hard when personal protective equipment is in short supply.

“Our greatest need right now are isolation gowns, procedural masks and N-95 respirators,” said Laura Kowalczkyk with the UAB Supply Chain Support. “I will tell you that is no different than my peers that I talk to around the country both in the affected areas of New Jersey and New York out in California and Washington. Nationally we’re all struggling with that, so it continues to be an on-going issue and we anticipate it to be an on-going issue for us probably well into the summer and early fall.”

Without personal protective equipment, it is more likely that healthcare workers risk getting sick themselves.

“When we take care of these patients from an infectious disease standpoint, when we have the appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) there is nothing to be afraid of,” UAB Epidemiologist Dr. Rachael Lee said. “And, if you look at our COVID units all of our health care workers are nurses, respiratory therapist clinicians they all feel confident in the personal protection equipment in caring for these patients.”

The supply chain for personal protective equipment is slow to arrive for a variety of reasons. One, the federal government is acquiring half of all equipment to distribute to the hardest hit areas. UAB is sterilizing and safely re-using the important N-95 masks. Lee is looking forward to the decline in the number of COVID-19 cases, but she said it will take some time to really get back to normal.

“I think what we will see is something like a new norm, you know we are used to giving people hugs and shaking hands but we may have to cut back on that, we may have to continue to give do some physical distancing while being aware that we can’t continue for a prolonged period of time because people get back to work,” Lee said.

UAB hospital has received an outpouring of donations of personal protective equipment from local research labs and the local community. Every little bit helps to keep health care workers

Categories: COVID-19, Local News, Regional and US News