Should you sell your surgical masks?

Since the pandemic began, healthcare centers have been needing increasing amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies. This demand increases as cases of COVID-19 do, and the United States is already experiencing an increase in cases, which are only expected to be worse than the first peak during the spring.

During the first wave of cases earlier in the year, shortages of some of the most important supplies needed in the healthcare field were reported, including N95 masks, KN95 masks, gloves, gowns, face shields, and surgical masks. The latter are one of the most used types of face masks in the healthcare field. With this new surge of COVID-19, the demand for supplies is already increasing and shortages are already being reported across the USA.

So, you might find yourself with some unused surgical masks and you don’t know what to do with them. Should you sell them? In this article, we explain why donating is the right decision during these times. 

Why are surgical masks important in the healthcare field? 204

Surgical masks are some of the most necessary and used face masks in the healthcare field. You can probably easily recognize these disposable face masks with their characteristic blue and white colors. We often see them being worn by doctors, dentists, nurses, paramedics, and other healthcare providers.

They’re important during surgical and medical procedures where there’s a risk of exposure to both solid and fluid material that might be contaminated. These masks have a high fluid resistance that prevents these materials from penetrating the mask and being in contact with the wearer’s mouth or nose, preventing diseases that ca be transmitted this way.

As filters, these masks have the capacity to filter out large particles, including bacteria. However, viruses like the flu or the new coronavirus can’t be filtered out by these masks, which is why they’re not the recommended choice for virus protection, although they can substitute N95 respirators, which are considered the best masks for antiviral purposes. Besides viruses, they can also filter out smoke, dust, and pollen, among other hazards, which is why they have very diverse uses.

These masks not only protect the wearer, but they also prevent them from releasing pathogens into the environment, which protects those around them. This is important in surgeries to prevent the contamination of the wound and the development of infections on the patients. This also makes them a good way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare settings where there’s no close contact with COVID-19 suspected or confirmed cases.

How can you donate surgical masks instead of selling them?

If you have unused surgical masks at hand and don’t know what to do with them, we can tell you now that the two things you shouldn’t do is use them or sell them. Healthcare centers are in great need for all types of supplies, and surgical masks are one of them. Here’s a list with reliable resources to donate these masks in the USA:

  • Check on your state health department first

Local authorities and governors across the country have been asking for donations from people who have unused PPE, whether it’s at home or from companies that haven’t got the chance to use them yet. This should be the first place to look for when you have a potential donation.

  • University hospitals

The Association of American Universities has a list on their Twitter account where they keep a running tally of institutions that are part of the association that need PPE and are looking for donations. This resource contains all the information necessary to be in touch with these institutions.

  • Donate PPE

This platform is a source of information donors can find very helpful, including a list of the items needed by certain facilities or doctors, along with the contact information to reach out to them. This comes as the result from a partnership between engineers in Silicon Valley and medical students at the University of California.

  • Get Us PPE

This is a popular non-profit organization that has been working since the beginning of the pandemic towards the goal of making sure all healthcare providers and frontline workers get enough PPE during these difficult times. Their platform has options to either donate or receive, and they handle both products and fund donations.

Right now, some of the best ways in which we can help is to make sure our healthcare providers and frontline workers are getting the supplies they need. We can do this in many different ways:

  1.   Protecting ourselves and decreasing the workloads they’re receiving, so they will need less PPE every day.
  2.   Not using medical-grade masks and other supplies they’re desperately trying to get. These facilities need to buy these items in bulk and wholesale, but most of them have been difficult to find for sale anywhere.
  3.   If you have any of these items available to you, donate them to your local healthcare facility and frontline workers. And if you don’t have any PPE, you can also make financial donations to these centers.

These items not only include surgical masks but also any other supply that is difficult to find for sale like the 3M N95 masks in models like the 3M 8511, 3M 1860, and 3M 8210. For your own protection, reusable cloth masks are the recommended face mask by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

These are widely available everywhere, and you can even make them at home very easily. They’re completely cleanable and reusable, and when made in smaller sizes, can be used by kids who are 2 years or older.

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