Hospitals Are Still Short on Masks and Other Protective Gear

The incoming administration, he mentioned, is exploring methods to take over the distribution of testing provides and medical gear. They are additionally in search of to create monetary incentives and “purchase American” insurance policies to spice up the handful of home firms that make P.P.E., he mentioned. Mr. Biden wouldn’t hesitate to embrace the Defense Production Act, Dr. Bright mentioned, although he didn’t present particulars on how it might be employed.

Industry executives say the one solution to assure the United States has a dependable provide of high-quality masks and different medical gear is to acknowledge the sector as important for nationwide safety, much like the Pentagon’s method for guaranteeing firms that make fighter jet elements and navy uniforms stay viable even in peacetime.

That might imply offering loans and subsidies to home firms, mandating that state and nationwide stockpiles purchase American-made medical merchandise, and maybe requiring hospital chains to supply a few of their provides from homegrown producers.

“Masks usually are not an enormous spend,” Mr. Bowen mentioned. “The complete rattling market is lower than $150 million.”

Dan DeLay, who oversees procurement at CommonSpirit Health, the nation’s second-largest nonprofit hospital chain, mentioned the pandemic had opened his eyes to the significance of home provides. But, he mentioned, it may be difficult to persuade hospital executives to purchase American-made protecting gear, which might value 40 p.c greater than items manufactured abroad. “If we’re critical about home manufacturing, we’re going to must make a critical funding that’s sustained over the lengthy haul in case one thing like this occurs once more,” he mentioned.

For now, the legions of exhausted well being care employees are centered on getting by way of the present disaster. Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, mentioned the monthslong shortages had left many members feeling unappreciated and offended. Ms. Turner, who can be an I.C.U. nurse at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, Minn., recalled the times earlier than the pandemic, when nurses got an N95 masks for every affected person. These days, she incessantly hears from nurses compelled to make use of the masks as much as 10 instances, “or till they fall off their faces,” she mentioned.

Despite her optimism {that a} Biden administration can be completely different, she is weary of political leaders who lionize medical employees as frontline warriors however do little to assist preserve them protected, she mentioned.

“The whole disregard for our security has been unconscionable,” she mentioned. “They name us heroes however we’re not being handled like troopers at conflict as a result of if we have been, the federal authorities would ensure now we have all the pieces we want.”

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