How Has The Shortage Of N95 Masks Hurt Healthcare Workers?

Today’s pandemic ridden world needs to focus primarily on the needs of those in the frontlines. The big shortage is something that individuals have to face when it comes to the personal protective equipment like N95 masks and N95 respirators. You should keep in mind that those in the frontlines have to face the fact that there is a big shortage of personal protective equipment like N95 masks and N95 respirators. 

With that in mind, this article aims to discuss some of the things that individuals should know more about when it comes to their personal protective equipment like N95 masks and N95 respirators.

The Shortage Of N95 Masks In Hospitals

The United States ranked first in the pandemic preparedness ranking of the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the ranking seems too good to be true given that there is a shortage of the N95 masks and basic personal protective equipment that individuals need at this time. The reality is that personal protective equipment like N95 masks and N95 respirators have been in shortage since the beginning of the pandemic.

Even six months into the pandemic, there is still a dire shortage of the personal protective equipment like N95 masks and N95 respirators for the healthcare workers. Doctors and nurses are still reusing the N95 masks and N95 respirators. 

At the beginning of this pandemic, the Strategic National Stockpile of the United States included 12 million N95 masks and 30 million surgical masks, about 1% of the 3.5 billion required in the U.S. in the first year of the pandemic. The reason for the shortage is the fact that there has been a reliance on the outsourced PPE manufacturing to China while local and domestic manufacturers in the United States are also trying to provide as much as they possibly can.

Unfortunately, even with the signs that there are N95 masks and N95 respirators shortages that will happen further down the road, it is important for healthcare professionals to do their own ways in dealing with the problem.

Essential workers have had a problem dealing with the shortage because of the reality that the impact to the United States hospitals have been so high. Workers have been getting the virus themselves which further dwindles down that supply chain and not just the fact that the equipment is short supplied but the fact that even the essential workers are in short supply. This is one of the biggest problems that people have to face during the pandemic - the shortage in personal protective equipment and the possible shortage in healthcare workers.

Fixing The Shortage In Their Own Ways

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is highly aware that the outbreak of the coronavirus had stressed out the supply and the demand chain. There are so many things that individuals should know about the personal protective equipment like N95 masks and N95 respirators but the reality is that while everyone is trying to adjust to the normal way of handling the personal protective equipment, the equipment itself is in short supply. 

The FDA recommended conservation strategies depending on the intention of the clinical needs and supply levels that the healthcare professionals have. The FDA’s recommendations are intended to merely augment the supply and not to replace the supply. This is specifically important as the healthcare organizations themselves have dwindling supplies even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or CDC's Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) to aid in infection prevention and control.

In their own way, the hospitals are also expected to fix the shortage in their own ways through the following strategies:

  • Decontamination and Reuse of Personal Protective Equipment. The decontamination and reuse of the personal protective equipment is one of the best ways that individuals follow in order to maximize and augment the supply problem. This is subject to certain limitations like those that have had some splashes and those who have already been contaminated with blood sprays and aerosols.

  • Limited Use of Personal Protective Equipment. Healthcare professionals are expected to schedule the limited use of their personal protective equipment. When professionals are assigned to the coronavirus ward, they should be in full personal protective equipment while those who are not assigned to the coronavirus ward should be able to use the basic personal protection that they need.

  • The Right Ways To Address The Shortage

    There are a lot of things that individuals should know more about the shortage that healthcare professionals and frontlines have to face. Healthcare workers are facing a big problem when it comes to the personal protective equipment like N95 masks and N95 respirators and they are doing their best to address their needs. As an individual, you can also do your share to make sure that you provide the right ways to address the shortage. There are home maximization rules that you can follow to help our frontline workers.

    The personal protective equipment like N95 masks and N95 respirators can be decontaminated and they can get reused. Individuals should follow the health and safety protocols when decontaminating and reusing their personal protective equipment like N95 masks and N95 respirators. Keep in mind that you should follow the processes that are required of you so you can do the small steps that can help the healthcare workers and those who are essential in the movement of goods and services.

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