Local Physicians Facing Shortage of Masks

Mar 23, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to spread, doctors and nurses are facing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Hospitals are suffering from a shortage of face masks for their physicians, nurses and other employees tending to patients. There is an overwhelming demand for PPE nationwide for medical providers, but they are hard to come by, in part because members of the general public are purchasing them.

In an interview on First Coast Connect with Melissa RossDr. James St. George  of the Duval County Medical Society explained:

“We all are out in public and seeing the individuals wearing the standard surgical facemask and that's not helping them. These masks are not designed to sit airtight over the face. They pucker on the sides when you wear them and respiratory particles can survive. They can breathe it in just like they would if they weren't wearing the mask. That's not helping them. Masks are worn by surgeons to prevent infecting the patient.”

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Due to the shortage, hospitals are invoking protocols to limit PPE use. According to St. George,  providers may only receive one mask per shift, sometimes even multiple shifts, until it is no longer usable. 

The shortage of supplies is not the only concern the medical providers are facing, according to St. George. If doctors become sick, there could be a lack of staff to meet the overwhelming number of patients.

“DCMS (Duval County Medical Society) is looking at possible options of trying to recruit retired physicians should that need arise. But then of course, you're talking about a physician in an age bracket who's at a higher risk because they're elderly, over 65, so that this is a concern.”

When asked what the public can do to help medical staff, St. George said stay home. Social isolation is the only way to combat the spread of the virus and begin to flatten the curve. 

Sarah Glenn can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org, 904-358-6317