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The Race to Get Personal Protective Equipment to Health Care Workers

March 24, 2020
by Maclean's


On Friday, Dr. Michael Warner, an ICU physician at Toronto’s Michael Garron Hospital, started calling the city’s veterinary clinics, looking for animal ventilators that could be repurposed for people with COVID-19.

By Saturday, he realized that ventilators were no longer the chief priority: hospitals around the country are burning through personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers with such speed that it is only a matter of weeks before they run out. The looming shortages include N95 masks, gowns, gloves, face shields and even scrubs.

“If we run out of personal protective equipment, we cannot treat people with COVID-19, full stop,” says Warner. “That means we can’t even enter their rooms, let alone give them medication, give them meals, put breathing tubes in or provide them with any type of care.”

Warner and other physicians, nurses, pharmacists, midwives and physician assistants across Canada are sounding the alarm that they need more PPE. They’re calling for all Canadians to help find safe, workable protection for health care workers. They want nail salons, dental offices, veterinary clinics and any Canadians who own these items to get them cleaned, sorted and moved to the front lines in Canada’s emergency departments and intensive care units.

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