Those invaluable home healthcare workers who brave infections by taking care of COVID-19 patients in their homes say that a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) is risking their health and safety.
According to Fox News, one national survey found nearly half of the home healthcare agencies are low in valuable supplies.
"Forty-five percent have less than 10 days of PPE, but 42 percent are serving COVID-19 patients," Bill Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) told Fox News. "The best remark I got with somebody who said we don't have the necessary face shields, so we're cutting open soda bottles and using them as makeshift face shields."
Dombi added many healthcare workers are asking nail salons, tattoo parlors, and even construction sites to share masks or makeshift gowns.
According to USA Today, the spread of COVID-19 already has added pressure to the home healthcare industry, which more than 10 million Americans rely on for assistance. Many of those are elderly or disabled which makes them more vulnerable to complications form the deadly virus. Obviously, social distancing is not possible when you depend on home care.
Home Health Care News reports NAHC and other industry associations recently wrote to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asking in-home healthcare providers be given priority status for PPE.
Because of the shortage, caregivers are worried about whether they should even enter a home without the appropriate PPE, says Home Health Care News. Leaders at the Washington State Nurses Association issued a statement, summing up the fear of healthcare workers in general:
"Our first priority is PPE. We cannot win this fight if health care workers fall ill, and our members deserve to be protected as they work to help others recover."
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