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B.C.'s seniors' support sector worried about protective equipment supply

Last Updated Apr 26, 2020 at 8:37 pm PST

Masks donated to Operation Protect (Courtesy SafeCare BC)

Forty per cent of respondents have less than a three day supply of equipment.

Thirteen per cent say they have no eye protection.

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) — A new survey is demonstrating how precarious the supply of protective equipment is in B.C.’s seniors’ support sector.

The questionnaire was answered by 543 people who work in assisted-living, long-term care, home support or community living, on Thursday, April 23.

It was conducted by SafeCare BC, which advocates for the health of people working with seniors.

Half of the respondents anticipate running out of hand sanitizer within a week. Forty percent believe they’ll run out of gloves within the week as well. Fifteen percent said they had no protective gowns. Thirteen percent said they have no eye protection.

Overall, 40 per cent of respondents had less than a three day supply of equipment in general.

N-95 masks seem to be in particular short supply, with roughly 40 per cent of workers in community living, home support, assisted living and long-term care in every health region reporting having no supplies.

In the Northern Health region, 44 per cent of respondents say they have no supply of protective gowns.

As dire as the numbers are, they are an improvement over a similar survey done earlier in the month.

Sixty-nine per cent of respondents in the April 11 survey reported a critical shortage of personal protective equipment. That percentage is now down to 42 per cent.

The earlier survey showed 38 per cent of respondents reporting having less than a three day supply of surgical masks, whereas that number has improved to 27 per cent.

“No health care worker should have to wonder if there will be enough protective equipment for them,” says SafeCare BC CEO Jen Lyle in a press release.

She says she’s impressed with the response to their Operation Protect campaign. Some 600,000 pieces of equipment have been donated by 485 donors.

“It is inspiring to see the community come together and support health care workers by donating supplies and equipment needed to keep them and the people they care for safe,” she says.

“But there is a very real need for more equipment.”