WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A hospital in Georgia reported that they might procure overpriced protective equipment from Mexico as hospital supplies run out.
- The Mexican supplier is charging $7 for each N95 facemask. The original price apiece is 58 cents.
- The Phoebe Putney Health System makes use of makeshift masks to preserve the remaining N95 masks in stock.
Hospitals are contemplating on buying markup prices for protective equipment for medical professionals at the front lines who are exposed to patients amid the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
Phoebe Putney Health System in Albany, Georgia contacted a supplier from Mexico for N95 facemasks. CEO Scott Steiner says that the hospital system will be overcharged for this protective equipment, but they are left with no choice.
“We were just looking at sourcing these [N95 masks] out of a company out of Mexico and they want $7 per mask. They’ve got a million of them at hand,” Steiner said. “This is a mask that normally would cost us 58 cents. But I tell you, we are probably going to take them at $7 each because we are that desperate.”
The six-month supply for the hospital system has been depleted in less than a week because of the large influx of patients that began last Tuesday, says Steiner.
N95 masks are particulate filtering — protective against both liquid and airborne particles. These are protective gears effective against COVID-19 and other illnesses that are transmitted through respiratory droplets from sneezing or coughing.
Both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise the public against buying and wearing of masks in response to the dip in supply.
The hospital system had resulted in placing makeshift masks over N95 masks in order to preserve the latter for extended use.
“We are scrambling, even to the point where…in order to preserve [our three-day supply of N95 masks] and get them to last longer, we’ve got a team of people sewing masks together.” Steiner then held up a prototype of surgical sheeting that has been sewn together to form a mask.
Steiner added that “instead of going through eight or nine or ten a day, maybe an employee can only go through two or three” due to the shortage and the hospital is concerned “about running out.”
“We’ve got about 3,000 of these [surgical sheeting masks] made. We believe we can make 200,000 of them. It will take a few weeks, but this is what we’re having to do because we don’t know when that next shipment is coming,” Steiner says, adding that, “our employees would not be safe without this [personal protective equipment].”
The Phoebe Putney Health System had not responded for comment in time for publication.
The Department of Health in Georgia confirms 197 coronavirus cases and one death Wednesday. The announcement comes after the state tested 1,508 people for the coronavirus.
Johns Hopkins University’s tracking dashboard records over 7,300 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States with over 100 recorded fatalities. As of this writing, there are 214,900 people who have tested positive for the virus on a global scale. Over 8,700 of them have died, and 83,000 have recovered from the virus.