EAST NORRITON — With the number of coronavirus cases climbing every day, many doctors, nurses and other medical professionals at hospitals across the country have been facing a shortage of masks and other protective equipment.

The staff at Einstein Montgomery Medical Center in East Norriton hasn’t experienced lack of supplies yet, but that could change at any time, allowed Chief Operating Officer Beth Duffy.

“We are experiencing what many hospitals are experiencing both locally and nationally related to supply shortages related to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic,” Duffy noted. “We are closely monitoring the amount of supplies that we have, specifically those used for personal protective equipment (PPE) which includes gloves, gowns, masks and shields.  We have had enough supplies to ensure the safety of our staff and patients but this varies day to day and is dependent on us successfully receiving the orders that we have placed.   In addition, we have tapped into regional and national supply resources to help fulfill our needs.” 

Einstein Montgomery has now set up a centralized distribution area for its PPE supply that is distributed to the staff, Duffy said.

“This helps with allocating the correct supplies to ensure that each employee has what they need to safely care for our patients. We are following national guidelines from the CDC related to the use of PPE.”

Unlike some facilities, the staff has not yet needed to resort to homemade equipment.

“It’s certainly something that’s in our back pocket should we be unable to get supplies form our normal resources,” Duffy said.

“Obviously we can’t manufacture our own gloves but we can put together our own plastic face shields. We would look at that as an alternative should we be unable to fulfill our needs through our normal sources.”

The hospital is also open to accepting donations, Duffy added.

“If people have certain critical supplies we will gladly accept their donations but we ask that they call us beforehand so that we make sure it’s the right kind of equipment,” she said. “Hospitals have certain specifications for masks and gowns and gloves so we’d want to make sure that what people want to give us is what we actually need. So if they will call ahead we’ll review with them what they have, versus what  our need is and then we’ll come up with a designated place to drop that off, because we have to be careful bringing things into our organization. We want to make sure that it’s safe for our patients and staff.”

Those interested in donating items to Einstein Montgomery should call 484-622-7013.

“I want to remind everybody that this is a serious problem and people need to stay in place unless it’s essential that they go out, that they wash their hands and stay six feet apart,” Duffy said. “All of those things are going to help us flatten this curve. We really do want everybody to be safe.”   

At Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health the staff hasn’t yet confronted a shortage, noted spokeswoman Emily Winshel.

“The outpouring of support by our community for our health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a source of strength for all of us,” Winshel said. “In response to the many inquiries, Abington- Jefferson Health has set up a convenient drop-off site for medical supplies in Abington, at Levy Medical Plaza, 1235 Old York Road (across from Abington Hospital).”

The drop off site is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“All products should be in their original packaging -- unopened and unexpired,” Winshel said. “The medical equipment we’re accepting at this time includes: N-95 respirator masks (medical grade preferred) or industrial, NIOSH and FDA approved; hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol; surgical grade ear loop facemasks (preferred) or tieback face masks; masks with face shields; goggles (no openings on sides).”

Tower Health is currently in the process of finalizing a supply donation policy and offered the following statement:

“Like other healthcare providers, Tower Health is working very hard to manage and conserve our supplies of masks, eye protection, sanitary wipes, gowns, and other materials related to controlling the spread of COVID-19. The safety of our patients and employees remains our top priority. We are implementing a number of strategies, including sharing resources across Tower Health facilities; identifying alternative sources for supplies; and implementing policies for safely extending the use of materials. We have been gratified by the many offers from area businesses and organizations to donate supplies and we have a process in place for accepting these contributions. It is heartening to see our community come together in this way to ensure the safety of our healthcare team and the patients relying on us for care.”

The hospital requested that those interested in donating keep checking the website, towerhealth.org.

“The safety of our team, patients and the community remains the driving force in all our response efforts related to COVID-19, “ noted Jack Lynch, President and CEO, Main Line Health.

“We currently have enough supplies-- including N95 masks for our team. However, our concern—like that of many health systems in our region and across the country-- is maintaining supply well into the future, as there is uncertainty with how long the pandemic will continue. We are following all CDC and DOH guidelines to ensure our team is safe while caring for COVID-19 patients. While we are exploring every vendor avenue to obtain more protective equipment, we are also exploring best practice options to preserve our Personal Protective Equipment for our team. We are incredibly grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support from our community members and local businesses who want to ensure our front line staff has everything they need to remain safe. While these are very challenging times for us all, it has demonstrated the inspiring humanity that exists all around us."

As of March 26, Penn State Health in Berks County has announced it is accepting drop-off donations of key supplies from the community at large.

“As we face an unprecedented and challenging time, not just in our community but across the world, I have been encouraged by the kindness, generosity and collaboration that demonstrate our shared commitment to putting the needs of others ahead of our own," said Steve Massini, Penn State Health CEO.

"Many businesses, civic organizations and individual members of the community have asked if they can donate personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to help us respond to COVID-19,” continued Massini. “While Penn State Health currently has what we need to protect our health care workers and care for our patients, events are changing rapidly and we know we could experience shortage issues in the future. We are pleased to announce that we have begun accepting drop-off donations of critical supplies from the community. We would like to thank everyone for their tremendous support during this evolving outbreak.”

Residents are reminded to follow the changing guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office about leaving their homes for nonessential travel. Individuals are encouraged to consolidate their essential trips with drop-off activities.

Requested items include new or unused (items in sealed boxes are preferred) disposable Latex-Free Medical Exam Gloves; PPE Masks: Ear Loop or Tie; Surgical or Medical PPE Masks: N95 Respirators; Commercially - Made Disposable Disinfecting Wipes - germicidal with bleach; Commercially - Made Disinfecting Wipes > 70% alcohol; Commercially - Made Hand Sanitizer and Hand Soap.

Donations are accepted Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon at the following locations: Penn State Health Center, 175 Crystal A Drive, Hershey;  Penn State Health St. Joseph Foundation Office (blue building front), 1036 MacArthur Road, Reading; Penn State Health Medical Group - Lancaster Clinical Lab, 2301 Columbia Ave., Lancaster.

 Donors will not need to get out of their cars if they prefer not to. Staff will maintain a safe distance from donors, will wear gloves and regularly clean their hands. Donors will be asked to provide basic contact information and may request a receipt for their records.

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