Still not enough PPE

15/04/2020

The message from the top is that New Zealand has enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for people who need it.

The message further down the chain contradicts that:

Newshub has obtained more evidence of the gulf between the Ministry of Health and nurses about what’s happening on the frontline with masks and personal protective equipment (PPE).

An audio recording between a charge nurse and staff member reveals the reality of the frustration heath workers face in their efforts to wear masks to protect themselves from coronavirus.

“If you are telling me that you are insisting on wearing a mask at work, I don’t know what to say – we are stopping other people doing that,” the nurse can be heard telling the staff member.

“We are directed that staff can’t wear masks.” . . 

These concerns are not isolated to just one hospital; a nurse at Burwood Hospital, for instance – where six of New Zealand’s nine COVID-19 deaths have occured – says staff even on the COVID-19 ward do not have adequate protection.

They’re on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis and want to do all they can to protect themselves and their patients, but requests for masks are being blocked by their managers.  . .

A major healthcare provider says it’s struggling to get even a week’s worth of PPE:

Green Cross Health is a provider of primary health care services through pharmacies, GP clinics and home health care and community nursing.

Group chief executive Rachael Newfield said they were struggling to get PPE for their community health division.

“We undertake 60,000 personal cares, which are close contact carers looking after an individual in their home every week.

“To date, from the 20 DHBs, we have received just 30,000 masks, so that isn’t enough to last a week, if we allow our staff to feel safe and follow the latest guidance,” she said.

Newfield said the amount of PPE they could receive also differed between individual DHBs, and stocks from local suppliers were also tight.

When the message to the public is to protect ourselves why doesn’t the health service have enough PPE for all the staff who need it?

Yesterday a third of people with Covid-19 were health workers.

The number of health workers in New Zealand with Covid-19 has jumped by nearly 60 percent in just four days.

On Wednesday, 64 healthcare workers had contracted the virus but that figure had leapt to 101 by Sunday.

Of the 110 new confirmed and probable Covid-19 cases in the intervening period, 37 of them – more than a third – were health staff. . . 

Not all The health workers contracted the disease through work but that some did makes it even more important that all of them have PPE when and where they need it.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the situation was worrying.

“I’m concerned about any case in a healthcare worker, particularly where it happens in the workplace,” he said.

“We’ve got some information about the cases that are healthcare workers and what I’ve asked the team for particular analysis of is, of the cases that have happened in the workplace, how was it that they were infected? So was that through being part of caring for someone with Covid-19 or was it because they are part of a cluster where they may be a close contact of another staff member?” . . .

And was it because staff don’t have the PPE they need?

The incidence of disease in health workers takes the edge off the hope that comes from the decline in the number of new cases.

That downward trend will have to continue before the government decides to let us out of the level 4 lockdown and giving health workers the PPE they need will help that.

Yesterday Treasury outlined various scenarios showing  the economic impact of the lockdown:

Treasury scenarios released by the Government show unemployment could reach up to 26 percent if the coronavirus lockdown is extended beyond four weeks.

The data shows the range of scenarios Treasury has predicted for the New Zealand economy, based on assumptions of different amounts of time under the four COVID-19 alert levels.

The scenarios show that unemployment can be kept below 10 percent, and return to 5 percent next year, if the Government is willing to provide additional financial support. . .

The economic and social costs of the lockdown are already too high.

We can not afford to have it extended, especially if the extension was due to an increase in infections because health workers don’t have the PPE they need to keep themselves safe.


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