Hospitals respond to questions over PPE supplies for healthcare workers

Posted at 5:57 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 16:17:18-04

PPE, or personal protective equipment, was not on the forefront of most people's minds prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now as conversations continue about ensuring people on the front lines have enough equipment like gloves, masks and gowns to keep them safe, we're checking in with local hospitals on the status of their supplies.

"Today at French Hospital we have an adequate supply of all PPE, personal protective equipment, but that could change," said French Hospital Medical Center CEO Alan Iftiniuk.

Tenet Health Central Coast, which owns Sierra Vista and Twin Cities hospitals, said in part, "We can safely and appropriately care for our patients with the necessary supplies and equipment. We follow PPE conservation practices as recommended by the CDC."

But the hospitals are seemingly at odds with the California Nurses Association, which says there's more that local hospitals could be doing.

Six days ago, healthcare workers with the association held a vigil in San Luis Obispo about what they say is a lack of PPE, telling us Wednesday, "The issues we have with Dignity (French) and all hospitals, is the level of PPE that must be provided. Nurses must be protected, so that they can remain healthy and provide care for the patients at French and other hospitals... Their health is being put at risk by French Hospital's current practices."

The Nurses Association does not agree with the reusing of equipment like N-95 masks, a practice they say is in place at local hospitals.

French Hospital's CEO says they are following guidelines set by the CDC and the latest science available.

"We continue to learn as the progression of the disease continues forward and as we get more data, we adapt to that data and we like to base our decisions on the best evidence-based science that's available to us," Iftiniuk said.

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department says they have been ordering PPE at a steady rate since the beginning of the pandemic and they have been able to fill orders from health care providers in the community running short on supplies.