American Nurses Association Says Masks and PPE Being Reused

American Nurses Association Says Masks and PPE Being Reused Click to Enlarge Photo: Associated Press

(KNSI) - It appears mandatory lockdowns to preserve personal protective equipment like masks for healthcare workers did little to increase the stockpile.

Several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses across the country are still saying there is a shortage of PPE - especially masks - in hospitals.

Dr. Ernest Grant, president of the American Nurses Association, explains what he is hearing.

"They're having to reuse what was initially designed as a single use PPE. And of course it does create a very unsafe work environment, because they are afraid of cross contamination and also the possibility of taking this virus home to their family members."

Grant says the PPE situation varies depending on where the hospital is.

"It's the small rural hospitals, it's the long term care facilities, it's public health nurses, other places where these masks are needed as well that are having a very difficult time of getting that."

Grant says he has gotten complaints that some healthcare workers at those facilities are reusing their masks.

"And it was one comment from a nurse that said 'we were given five N-95 masks in March. To this day, we're still using these masks. I use one a shift and place [it] in a paper bag for five days before [I'm] able to use [it] again."

Grant says some healthcare workers are getting desperate and ordering masks and filters from overseas.

"And when they get them they're either counterfeit, or they do not fit the standard, or they're too large. And if the face mask doesn't fit very well, you've got an opening where it could possibly permit the virus to come in."

He says that the nurses are dedicated and want to continue to do their jobs. They just want to be protected so that they can stay safe and keep their families safe.