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Things are getting to me today. I've been talking a friend who is a medical resident in another part of Canada. During the pandemic I've been trying to send her pictures and such as a pick me up. Recently I learned her hospital has run into a shortage of PPE and now she doesn't have masks. Many of their supplies were stolen. I am angry and afraid. Partly it's personal. I don't consider my friend low risk in terms of her own health. She doesn't have the option to stop treating people, both from her own morals and probably from the rules of the province and the hospital (doctors in her area haven't been allowed to travel out of province for weeks). Partly it's more general. Her ability to help people is important, and it needs to be protected. Healthcare providers having protective equipment is the best thing for all of us. Doctors, nurses, etc who get sick can't work and we really, really need them at work.

I'm trying to figure out a way to help her, but I can't come up with anything. I figure that if masks were available for purchase then her hospital would also be buying them. I don't know what I can do, and I worry that's because there actually isn't anything I can do.

Does anyone know of any options?

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Are they totally out?  Here, two things are happening. The hospitals are working with groups who are making cloth masks and clear plastic reusable face shields, sort of like welders masks, to allow masks to be worn longer and protect the eyes. You could ask the hospital about anything like that. Also locally some people have posted, who knows where, asking for people with personal stashes of masks to donate them to the hospital. And locally they are starting to reprocess masks for reuse, and use strategies to ration masks in safe ways. They are all stopgap things but maybe you could look into something like that. I do worry and hope more masks are being produced soon. 

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@sugarsugar I think they have been out, or at least so low that it's been frequently unavailable to many workers. Some of the things you described are in progress, and their hospital actually just got a batch of equipment. I've got to spend some time figuring out which things I can still help with at a distance. I sent her a gift of a care package to try to keep her spirits up

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Some hospitals may go to allowing outside masks being used, and are starting to clean and resterilize.  but apparently until then, the public donations of their mask stashes is really helping here. I’m hearing about cloth masks now, and hope that can be an answer. 

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The filters from inside vacuum cleaners apparently work really well, people are making cloth masks with slits in them to fit in the vacuum cleaner bag filters, then you wash the cloth mask and replace the filter so you can reuse it

If a local hospital doesn't want them a local retirement community will, I wish i had a sewing machine

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The CDC has instructions for masks, both sewn and folded. They use coffee filters as filters. Immediately there was a run on filters. I figure the CDC has reliable information on making masks compared to a crafting site. Might be possible to use the folded ones. I didn’t look too closely but I did save the site for later. 

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On 4/1/2020 at 9:55 AM, Ion said:

Does anyone know of any options?

A teaching hospital (VCU Health) in my state, has recently developed an innovative, effective method for safely decontaminating N95 masks with high-intensity ultraviolet light, so the masks can be used again, multiple times......This method could help many hospitals who might be running low on PPE.

Is your friends hospital totally out of masks?

https://www.vcuhealth.org/news-center/news-story?&news=1636   (The contact number for VCU Health is at the very bottom of the page)

Here's the video:  

 

I hope this might help, wouldn't hurt to call for info, even if your friend is located in Canada.....According to the news article, the method could easily be implemented in other hospitals.

 

Edited by CrazyRedhead
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I think the reused sterilized masks aren't as effective as completely new ones, because the inner filter has to be in good condition in order to catch particles, but it's better than nothing and there is an awful lot of nothing being given to healthcare workers :(

 

Edited by Antecedent
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