Local emergency room doctor pleads with public not to hoard medical supplies

A D.C.-area emergency room doctor has one plea for the public: if you have any personal protection equipment (PPE) such as N95 respirators and face masks, donate them to your local hospital.

“We have very limited supplies available to us in terms of personal protection equipment,” said Jared Goldberg, a doctor who works in emergency rooms around the region. “So when we are facing patients that are coming in, we are having to ration our supplies of personal protection equipment such as our masks, our gowns, our face-shields. We are having to reuse these in many instances.”

Recently, the CDC loosened requirements relating to protective equipment because hospitals around the country do not have enough of these supplies to continue at the pace they’re going through them.

With the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. increasing by the day, that protective equipment is more important than ever.

“If health care providers become infected, then we are at risk of infecting the sickest patients that we see and we already know that the very sick patients are the ones very vulnerable to the bad outcomes associated with this virus,” Goldberg said.

And of course, when doctors and nurses get sick, they are unable to work. So if health care providers continue to get exposed unnecessarily to the virus, communities are at risk of losing the workforce necessary to care for the most high-risk patients.

Dr. Goldberg said those hoarding supplies need to cut it out.

“When people are going out and buying up all these extra masks at hardware stores and using them for their own personal use, just remember that there are health care providers that are struggling to be able to have that equipment on their own.”

He also hopes those who are able to help produce such supplies, take the initiative to step up and do so.

“It would be fantastic if we were able to get companies in the private sector to be able to increase production and help with equipping our hospitals with the supplies that we need,” he said.

So with the number of patients going up, and no idea of when the outbreak will end, how are medical professionals holding up?

“This is the type of thing that we sign up for,” Goldberg said. “Emergency physicians always have the expectations – we’re there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, to take care of patients who are in need. And that doesn’t change in times of a crisis or pandemic such as this.”

That being said, they also have families of their own they want to get back to, so they would appreciate having the gear they need to keep them safe.

And the doctor’s message to everyone in the region is to take this outbreak seriously.

“It’s important for people to respect the power of this virus and to understand that this is something that is going to effect somebody that they know very closely. Nobody is above getting infected by this virus. “

Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

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