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Archive COVID-19 2021

Proven Strategies for Managing PPE

Facilities are getting creative to maintain adequate levels of personal protective equipment despite nationwide shortages.

Adam Taylor

BIO

CRISIS LEVELS
Yale New Haven Health
CRISIS LEVELS The CDC permits the limited reuse of N95 masks when conventional strategies are not enough to maintain adequate supply levels.

With critical shortages of personal protective equipment during the pandemic and a manufacturing industry that can't keep up with the staggering demand from healthcare organizations, leaders of outpatient surgical facilities are using nimble and unorthodox thinking to ensure their staffs have the gear they need to protect themselves and their patients.

  • Smart ordering strategies. The pandemic made "normal" purchasing practices all but obsolete. Some facilities ordered the same amount of PPE, regardless of case volume. "Looking back, one thing we did right was to continue ordering the same amount of PPE during the period when we were only performing cases that were deemed emergent," says Greg DeConciliis, PA-C, CASC, administrator at Boston Out-Patient Surgical Suites, Waltham, Mass. "That allowed us to build up a good supply for when we reopened."

The idea came from the facility's PPE vendor, an invaluable resource Mr. DeConciliis says facility leaders should lean on during the pandemic.

Keeping abreast of the trends in other countries and making critical purchasing decisions early on helped some facilities weather the storm.

"We realized well before the virus hit the U.S. that the supply chain would most likely be affected due to the virus shutting down areas of China —where the vast majority of our supplies were manufactured," says Dan Stannard, RN, CASC, administrator, at Red Hills Surgical Center, in Tallahassee, Fla. "We decided it would be worth the money to buy extra supplies in January and February — just in case. That put us way ahead of the game when the shortages hit."

Having proper PPE on hand is critical, but you don't want to go overboard and create a stockpile you'll never wind up never using. So what's the sweet spot for purchasing? "We currently have enough PPE to maintain a three- to five-week supply — but we're not stockpiling to have enough for six months or a year," says Robert S. Bray, Jr., MD, a board-certified neurological spine surgeon and the CEO and founder of DISC Sports & Spine Center in Newport Beach, Calif. "Stockpiling means other facilities won't have the PPE they need when they need it most."

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