As the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies, global healthcare systems have become overwhelmed with potentially infectious patients seeking testing, care, and treatment. To prevent the spread of this deadly infection to and from patients and healthcare workers, healthcare organizations are relying on the effective use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including gloves, face masks, air-purifying respirators, goggles, face shields, N95 respirators, and isolation gowns. The growing demand for PPE supplies from personal protective equipment companies has led to an acute shortage of PPE and other medical supplies in areas of high demand. Personal protective equipment companies are finding it difficult to cope up with the demand and supply of PPE, thereby calling for reusability of PPE.
Some healthcare organizations have already partnered with innovators, policymakers, businesses, bulk PPE suppliers, and the public to ensure adequate PPE supplies to all who need them in the healthcare setting. Despite all these efforts, current PPE supplies continue to diminish compelling many healthcare organizations to adopt measures to conserve existing PPE supplies.
3Rs to Conserve PPE and Other Medical Supplies
We are sharing some of the common approaches adopted by many healthcare systems taking in the hope that they may prove helpful to your efforts. After collaborating with healthcare organizations in the US, colleges, and important personal protective equipment companies, we have compiled a few ways on how to conserve PPE and other medical supplies for a good number of days. We have categorized the PPE conservation strategies into three buckets namely Restrict, Reduce, and Reuse.
Healthcare organizations must restrict all visitors except one visitor per hospitalized child, cone companions for active L&D, one per hospice patient, and other exceptions. They should consider reducing the number of entrances to healthcare settings and thoroughly screen all visitors for symptoms of COVID-19. Moreover, healthcare organizations should create standardized workflows for screening and communication with visitors. They should consider identifying an internal Patient and Family Liaison Team to ensure communication within families, thereby reducing the burden on healthcare staff.
Reduce Exposure to Healthcare Workers
Healthcare organizations should have specific units or areas for Persons Under Investigation (PUI) and COVID-infected or suspected patients with dedicated care teams.
Healthcare personnel should work across disciplines as a team. They should develop and use a basic checklist before treating the infected patient.
- Determine whether a patient needs to be seen or not and who will see him/her. They may ask to reduce the number of care providers in the room.
- Review all personal protective equipment and other medical supplies prior to entering the room of the infected patient.
- Healthcare staff should try to bundle as many tasks together as possible. For example, if two workers are needed to enter the room for a purpose, they should group and complete all necessary tasks at one entry itself.
- If possible, healthcare teams should do some of the routine cleaning post-treatment and care so that environmental services only clean the terminals.
- Healthcare organizations should try to reduce the use of transport staffs by having the PPE-clad receive team bring patients from the PPE-clad care teams.
Access to Personal Protective Equipment
Healthcare organizations should store PPEs in centralized locations and should be distributed by individuals from quality or infection control departments.
Healthcare centers can reduce demand for PPEs by:
Avoiding Elective Surgeries and Procedures
Some sort of management is available for handling COVID-19 in surgical systems and restricting non-essential surgeries and procedures. Healthcare centers should work with their local government and regional care partners to coordinate
Reducing Unnecessary Face-to-Face Encounters
Healthcare organizations should consider creating office visits with alternative sites for respiratory fever clinics, and non-infectious disease complaints.
Furthermore, scaling up telehealth capabilities can convert as many as unnecessary face-to-face visits as possible for respiratory as well as non-respiratory complaints. Recent changes to technology, payment, and licensure can help in this effort.
Minimizing Potential for Viral Exposure
- Physical controls and measures to isolate and cohort COVID+ patients
- Separating PUIs with appropriate ventilation systems
- Putting surgical masks on PUI and infected patients except when in isolation
- Avoid entry to the infected patient’s room for unnecessary patient care.
Healthcare organizations should develop an inventory management system to identify high usage areas and ensure proper use of PPEs by healthcare personnel. Maintaining an accurate inventory system will enable mobilization to high-risk areas when inventory is low and reduce rationing.
Other Potential Considerations that Need to Be Taken into Account
- Limiting excessive use of N95 face masks by allowing healthcare workers to wear only during procedures where respiratory secretions can be aerosolized, including intubation for PUI or infected individuals. Workers can use loop surgical masks for other encounters.
- Controlling the use of loop surgical masks to only encounters with patients on droplet precautions such as PUI or COVID+, and other flu-like illness investigations.
- Using intubation runners for intubation on COVID-19+ patients. Healthcare organizations need to develop an intubation checklist to standardize equipment needs and reduce wastage. They should keep separate intubation kits to prevent contamination.
To mitigate the critical shortages of PPE supplies, healthcare organizations have started using novel approaches including:
- Reusing N95s and face masks, gowns, and gloves
- Extending the use of N95 masks up to 5 times by covering it by another facemask and keeping it clean and not wet or dirty. Masks must be stored in a paper bag with 5 checkbox notations on the outer surface of the bag.
- Sterilizing PPE with UV light and 3-hour ozone disinfection. However, there is not yet any evidence of the effectiveness of these techniques to prevent the spread of the virus and maintain PPE effectiveness.
- Healthcare systems should develop a standard checklist for healthcare personnel with clear instructions regarding what items should be used, by whom, and under what situations. Besides, it should also include when they can be reused and/or parameters for extended use.
The adequate supply of PPE is crucial for all healthcare systems, personal protective equipment companies, and bulk PPE suppliers in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining proper supply and usage should be the top priority of healthcare organizations. Having an effective PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic can keep patients and healthcare workers safer. Moreover, personal protective equipment companies and bulk suppliers should optimize their supply-chain management to ensure there is a constant supply of PPEs to high demand areas.
Co-Defend is a one-stop destination for high-quality personal protective equipment and other medical supplies. It directly connects people to the most trusted bulk PPE suppliers who sell only FDA-approved PPE to ensure the longevity of the products. If you’re looking for bulk supplies of PPE, we can help with the requirement within the shortest time-frame.
Q.1. When should PPE be used?
Ans. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) helps in preventing the spread of infections and pathogens from one person to another. All healthcare staff, COVID+ patients, and visitors should use PPE when there will be contact with blood or other bodily fluids.
Q.2. Should PPE be shared?
Ans. Most PPE is meant for single-use; however, it may be shared by healthcare staff where it only required for a short duration of time. When sharing PPE, users should ensure that the PPE is properly cleaned and where required, it should be disinfected to ensure that there are no health risks to the other person using it.
Q.3. Do you supply PPE in bulk quantities?
Ans. Yes, we do supply PPE in bulk quantities. To place your order, get in touch with us.