By Jason Skyles, MD
President, St. Louis Metropolitan Medical Society 2020
As the frightening spread of COVID-19 unfolds around us, another crisis is emerging—the shortages of personal protective equipment and other supplies for physicians and other health care providers. Health systems are reporting that since the outbreak they have experienced a ten-fold increase in use of facemasks and other supplies necessary for health care workers to take adequate precautions. Many hospitals across the nation are now facing the possibility of severe supply shortages.
Through the media it is clear that our leaders, both locally and nationally, are aware of these shortages and are taking steps toward resolving them. But developing new sources and ramping up production will take time. In the meantime, we have seen pleas from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Surgeon General, and major hospital systems to be mindful of resources.
It is not my role nor my intention to tell medical professionals not to use certain supplies, particularly personal protective equipment. Instead I ask you to honestly assess your risks and try to limit such usage so that necessary materials are available to those at the highest risk. By being mindful of others, we can all hopefully help keep our colleagues and friends in the emergency departments, ICUs and other high-risk locations a bit safer. In times of crisis such as now, we all need to not only come together, but to work smartly and efficiently for the benefit of all.
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