Health care providers – including RNs across all health care settings, are facing severe shortages of PPE, including masks and N95 respirators, that will leave many unprotected and potentially infected by the virus. Information is coming to the attention of the American Nurses Association (ANA) of nurses using pillowcases and other materials to make masks or are reusing masks, creating unsafe conditions that could negatively impact the nurse and patient.
While the Administration announced that PPE production is ramping up, and has called on states to negotiate directly with manufacturers, nurses and other health care providers should never be placed in a position where they do not have the protective equipment needed to safely do their job.
We’re calling on Congress to:
• Support the immediate reporting on the level of and distribution of PPE to frontline health care personnel from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
• Mandate that sustainable PPE levels should always be maintained at the SNS, including before, during, and following an outbreak, pandemic, or other emergency.
• Require a General Accountability Office (GAO) study to review the actions of all applicable federal agencies to identify root causes of these failures in preparation for the next wave of COVID-19 or any other pandemic to hit the United States.
• Require a GAO study on the current supply chain of PPE in the United States and worldwide to prevent future avoidable shortages.
• Require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide science-based information on the transmission of the virus so that nurses can make the best decisions on the appropriate level of protection.
• Require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop reporting requirements to better track shortages of PPE.
In order to ensure that RNs and other frontline health care providers remain healthy and able to continue to provide vital patient care, the Administration and Congress must exhaust every option available to increase PPE production and prioritize distribution to RNs and other frontline providers.