Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Health care shortages: Blood donations, protective equipment

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2020 at 1:23 PM

click to enlarge N95 masks, or respirators, provide more protection than surgical masks. They're getting harder to come by as demand surges. - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
  • N95 masks, or respirators, provide more protection than surgical masks. They're getting harder to come by as demand surges.


Centura Health announced it is also accepting donations of personal protective equipment for health care workers. In Colorado Springs, you can drop off the following items at Penrose Hospital, 2222 N. Nevada Ave., on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. starting March 25:

• Boxed masks and N95 masks (single or used masks cannot be accepted)
• Gloves that are still in the manufacturer's packaging
• Packaged gowns or rain ponchos with sleeves
• Face shields (must include eye protection and be labeled as surgical, isolation, dental, or medical procedure face shields)

In a March 24 statement, Centura Health noted that it cannot currently accept homemade masks, but that could change.

"We are so amazed by the talented and giving members of our community offering to make homemade masks," the statement says. "As of today, per CDC guidelines, homemade masks are not considered PPE and should be only considered as a last resort. Therefore, Centura is not currently accepting these as donations, but would like to still hear from you. Please email us at CovidDonations@centura.org so we can provide you a pattern and material specifications in the event our current policy changes and we begin to accept homemade masks."


It's still safe to donate blood — and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care providers say that gift is critically needed.

Local blood centers anticipate a 20 percent decline in donations the week of March 20, according to a statement from Centura Health (which counts Penrose-St. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs among its 17 hospitals in Colorado and Kansas). In coming weeks, the decline in donations could grow to 35 percent compared with the norm, due to social distancing precautions to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"It is important to note that blood donation is not considered a large social gathering, and individuals who are well and healthy can safely donate blood," Centura Health's statement says.
"Having a well-stocked inventory of blood products is crucial for health care facilities, as trauma, cancer and sickle cell patients routinely benefit from blood donations."

Visit vitalant.org to learn more about the donation process, and to sign up for an appointment. Blood donations through Vitalant are currently by appointment only.

Meanwhile, the state is scrambling to figure out how to handle a shortage of personal protective equipment for health care providers.

Colorado received an allocation of medical equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile on March 23, but the quantities (49,200 N95 masks; 115,000 surgical masks; 21,420 surgical gowns; 21,800 face shields; and 84 coveralls) are only enough for about one full day of statewide operations, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment said in a statement.

Local medical students, in conjunction with MedSupplyDrive, are organizing a donation drive for personal protective equipment, to be given to health care facilities. They are collecting the following items (which can be in an open box, but must be unused):

• Surgical masks
• N95 masks
• Face shields
• Bandanas
• Non-latex gloves
• Medical/Surgical gowns
• Plastic rain ponchos
• Bleach/bleach wipes
• Hand sanitizer

Items can be dropped off at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' HealthCircle Primary Care Clinic parking lot, located at 4863 N. Nevada Ave., at the following times:

• Wednesday, March 25 at 5 p.m.
• Saturday, March 28 at noon

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