A face mask and pair of gloves are the first lines of defense for the doctors and nurses treating patients infected by COVID-19, but healthcare workers say there isn’t enough protective gear to go around. 

Nurses in North Carolina begged the General Assembly for help getting more personal protective equipment Thursday, putting forward a list of recommendations that includes using federal defense funds to remedy supply shortages in hospitals. 

“We all know what is coming our way in the next few weeks, and the measures being taken to maximize usage simply won’t cut it for much longer, and that puts nurses and other healthcare workers in immediate risk,” Dennis Taylor, president of the North Carolina Nurses Association told the NCGA during a virtual hearing. “We are going to start running out of options soon and that will force nurses to make life-threatening decisions that nobody should have to face. We need help and we need it fast.”

According to an NCNA survey of over 350 nurses, 60 percent believed their healthcare facilities have a shortage of personal protective equipment. Hospitals are already asking the public to donate PPE in an effort to address projected shortages.

Coronavirus has already killed 16 people in North Carolina and 1,850 people have tested positive for the virus. But this is just the beginning of the storm: hospital staff are bracing for a surge in cases as the virus continue to spread, which the Institute for Heath Metrics and Evaluation predicts won’t come until early May. 

“The only good news we have to report right now is that the number of hospitalizations has not reached a crisis level quite yet,” said NCNA’s CEO Tina Gordon. “The window of opportunity to prepare for that inevitability is closing fast, though, and we need to be able to get our nurses these vital supplies before that wave of patients hits hospitals.”

The NCNA recommended legislators aggressively support “stay-at-home” orders to help slow the spread of the virus, flatten the curve, and prevent hospitals from getting inundated with patients needing critical care. They also want the state to use the Defense Protection Act to get more supply to hospitals and give nurses greater job flexibility to address personnel shortages. 

Read their full list of recommendations here:

Nurses Address NCGA During Coronavirus Pandemic by Leigh Tauss on Scribd

Contact Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss at ltauss@indyweek.com. 

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