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Shortage of protective equipment for care home, community support workers a 'crisis,' says SafeCare BC

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Apr 12, 2020 at 6:19 pm PST

SafeCare BC is asking health officials to give priority access to protective equipment to vulnerable groups in long-term care homes and residences. (Courtesy SafeCare BC)
Summary

Seventy per cent experiencing a shortage of personal protective equipment: survey

They have three days or less of any one item of personal protective equipment: CEO

SafeCare BC asking health officials to give priority access to protective equipment

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Seventy per cent of care home and community support workers in B.C. are experiencing a shortage of personal protective equipment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey by the health and safety association for the province.

SafeCare BC conducted a survey of 478 long-term care, assisted living, home support and community living providers on Friday, and 70 per cent said there is a shortage of personal protective equipment.

“Overwhelmingly, the response was that the majority of organizations are experiencing a critical shortage of PPE, that means that they have three days or less of any one item of personal protective equipment,” said Jennifer Lyle, CEO of SafeCare BC CEO.

She called the shortage a “crisis.”

The association is asking health officials to give priority access to protective equipment to vulnerable groups in long-term care homes and residences, as well as appealing to the public for donations.

In March, SafeCare BC established “Operation Protect,” an invitation to individuals to donate unopened and unused PPE equipment. It had 350 donors and received 360,500 pieces of protective equipment.

But more help is needed, Lyle said, as more than PPE supplies are in short supply.

“Things like hand sanitizers — we saw about 62 per cent of respondents predicting that they would be running out of hand sanitizers by the end of next week,” Lyle added.

She said the association is contacted daily by members who are desperate for equipment.

“While I am hopeful that we will see action, it really just highlights the need for immediate and urgent action to address these needs.”

As of Saturday, the province has a total of 58 deaths related to COVID-19 and 1,445 confined cases.

A majority of the deaths are linked to care homes.

Also Saturday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said his province has more than enough protective masks, gloves and ventilators for its own COVID-19 needs, so it’s sharing some of its surplus with provinces in more dire need.