Maricopa County officials announced Monday that they would prioritize long-term care facilities to receive personal protective equipment to guard against the new corona virus.
“We believe that the limited number of masks, dresses and gloves will have the greatest impact in long-term care facilities where it will protect the lives of our loved ones who are at the highest risk of severe illness, and that will also keep them alive.” get out of the hospital and reduce stress on the health care system, “said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, Maricopa District public health medical director.
Long-term care facilities include skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, assisted living and hospitals. Maricopa district has more than 500 such large facilities, officials said.
As of Monday, Maricopa District had 1,433 known cases and 31 known deaths. Sixty-six of the cases and 10 of the deaths were related to 22 long-term care facilities, Sunenshine said. Starting Tuesday, the district will provide data on cases and deaths at the facility, but will not reveal which specific facilities.
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, including surgical masks, N95 masks, gowns, gloves and face shields to ensure health care workers and others are protected from corona virus exposure.
“PPE is most important for our health care and those who care for sick or vulnerable individuals,” said Marcy Flanagan, director of public health in Maricopa District.
Arizona has received 75% of the allocation from the Strategic National Stockpile, and Maricopa County has received 100% of the allocation in three shipments, Flanagan said.
Many of the first distributions went to acute care hospitals and emergency medical services. The second and third distribution will be mainly to long-term care facilities.
“We have to determine to whom we will provide this PPE strategically which means the greatest benefit to our entire community,” said Flanagan.
Maricopa Regency’s allocation from the Strategic National Stockpile includes: 108,432 N95 masks, 263,480 surgical masks, 32,786 face shields, 36,202 surgical gowns, 212 front gowns and 162,008 gloves.
“Even though it is useful, this allocation is not in line with the needs of a community as big as us,” he said. The health care system and hospitals use 544,000 surgical masks every week, so that more than 263,000 masks from inventory won’t even meet the needs of the week.
Sunenshine said after observing events that took place at long-term care facilities in Washington and elsewhere, the county decided it made sense to prioritize them for protective equipment. Such facilities offer living together with food and joint activities and homes “are most vulnerable to this situation”, older people with more basic health conditions, he said.
Maricopa District continues to monitor PPE supplies and look for new places to buy.
“Because we can buy more PPE, we will continue to ensure that those who care for our sick people will receive the PPE they need,” Sunenshine said.
The county website has more information in the COVID-19 guidelines for long-term care facilities.
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