Smallest Health Providers Face Biggest Problem Finding Protective Gear Amid Coronavirus Surge
As the coronavirus rages across the country, community health centers and small doctors’ offices, AIDS clinics and homeless shelters are struggling with a scarcity of protective gear to buffer workers from harm, their budgets and buying power unable to compete with large medical institutions.
Most U.S. hospitals and health systems have, over the pandemic’s nine months, stitched together systems and improvisations to acquire masks, gowns, gloves and other personal protective equipment. Yet many small health-care and social-service settings continue to suffer from shortages they expect to grow worse.
Large nursing facilities are faring better. But the most recent figures the American Health Care Association, a main trade group, submitted to federal health officials on behalf of about 14,000 nursing homes show that more than 600 were out of N95 masks and an additional 900 or so had less than a one-week supply. Few are completely without gloves or gowns, the data indicates.