The PPE Challenge: What Healthcare Workers Are Saying About Difficulty Securing FDA-Approved PPE

An image of a person dressed in a white protective gown and medical gloves holding a disposable face mask, with the headline “The PPE Challenge” and the official multi-blue toned MRI logo in the lower left corner.

As the grumblings of a “second wave” become louder, the healthcare community is bracing themselves for more of the same: PPE shortages, price gouging, and questionable quality as they do their best to purchase safe, tested, FDA-approved PPE.
Canada, not unlike the U.S., is expressing their concerns. “We continue to see outbreaks throughout the country and with resurgences of COVID-19 now before us, it’s imperative that governments ensure our frontline workers are protected, not only in hospital settings but also in community practice settings, as they form our first line of defense against this pandemic,” says Dr. Ann Collins, Canadian Medical Association president in a recent press release.
Along with the lack of equipment, Canadian physicians expressed further concerns in a survey about the availability of PPE and delays in delivery.

The survey indicates that 68% of community-based doctors – those working in offices or walk-in clinics – worry that suppliers will not have sufficient stocks of PPE while 62% expect orders to be delayed. The survey was conducted between August 19-24 by the CMA, with 1,459 physician members responding. More than half of those surveyed also said they worry global demand for PPE will hinder Canada’s ability to secure a sufficient supply to help against a second wave of infections.

“More than six months into this pandemic, and we’re still hearing from our members and, in fact, over 50% of them are having difficulty accessing PPE for their community practices, and this, in the face of rising numbers of COVID cases,” Collins said in an interview with CTV News Channel.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Illinois, PPE shortages and cost challenges remain a problem at Dr. Lauren Zalay’s dental office and Dr. Jacob Bloom’s plastic surgery clinic. Due to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines, healthcare facilities are now required to wear more PPE than ever before.

“We used to just wear a surgical mask. So now we’re wearing a gown, an N95 mask, a surgical mask, and a face shield,” says Dr. Lauren Zalay from University Associates in Dentistry in a recent TV interview with CBS Chicago:

A female dentist in a seafoam green protective gown, disposable face mask, and blue medical gloves uses dental tools to examine a child’s teeth with the headline “PPE Shortages Remain a Problem at Dental Office, Plastic Surgery Clinic.”

After each patient, Dr. Zalay and her staff must dispose of the previously used PPE for safety.
“For gowns, I would say we used to go through about 30 per month, and now we’re going through 15-20 per day.”

A screenshot of Dr. Lauren Zalay of University Associates in Dentistry, Chicago, during her interview with CBS Chicago.

Obviously, more PPE means more expense, and Dr. Zalay has this to say about the extra costs, “We’re up about 600%. And it’s crazy.” Prior to the pandemic, University Associates in Dentistry paid $18.89 for 10 gowns ($1.89 apiece). Now, the same gowns go for approximately $6.00 apiece. “Major distributors are price gouging us. They know we need it. And they know they have it.” Gloves are now double the price for half the amount of product.

It also is no secret that the scramble for PPE has created a market for counterfeits. In September 2020, customs officials said they seized 500,000 counterfeit N95 masks at O’Hare International Airport, as the shipment was en route from China to New Jersey.
Once it was seized, officers removed 30 masks from the shipment, and sent them to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention office in West Virginia for testing. The CDC concluded 10% of the masks had a filter efficiency rating below the required 95%. The remaining masks were turned over to Homeland Security for further investigation.
Chicago-based plastic surgeon, Dr. Jacob Bloom, says, “When your medical distributors don’t have it, turning to the internet like everyone else in the country is a little scary because there’s a lot of products that just aren’t up to snuff.”

A screenshot of Dr. Jacob Bloom, a Chicago plastic surgeon, wearing a concerned expression during his on-camera interview with Morning Insiders on CBS Chicago.

A Texas healthcare worker shares further introspection on the challenges of their respective medical facility finding safe FDA-approved PPE in the midst of 2020’s chaos, “They took away our Merit raises this year… fitted us for respirators… and they survey us constantly about how we feel about our safety. We are being offered different strategies for our mental well-being, things like counseling, meditation, and yoga.”

How much is peace of mind worth?
Dr. Zalay seems to have found a light at the end of the tunnel. She recently teamed up with a philanthropist in the newly launched company, MRI, with one mission: to help. MRI’s quest to bring a solution to these challenges feels like a cold drink of water in the scorching desert of PPE despair. Besides making deeply discounted bulk quality PPE available to the public, MRI maintains its philanthropic roots. To date, over 1 million masks have been donated, and MRI’s desire to make PPE available to underserved communities is still at the heart of all they do.
MRI spent months finding the best manufacturers around the world – the same ones that produce FDA or CE-listed products. Each manufacturer is given a compliance audit to evaluate factors like their manufacturer certification, delivery times, and our own evaluation of the final product.

Official U.S. Food and Drug Administration logo signifying that MRI’s face masks have been registered and certified with the FDA.

MRI offers a full line of available FDA-approved face masks for industrial or personal use and protective gowns providing protection from liquids.
• Non-surgical isolation gowns
• Daily use masks
• General use masks
• Sterilized individually wrapped masks
• KN95 masks
• N95 masks
• Exam gloves
• Test swabs
MRI is transparent about the stringent testing their PPE is subjected to. Next to each protective mask product offering, MRI gives each potential customer access to mask testing results including bacterial filtration efficiency and differential pressure reports.
Besides disposable face masks, MRI also offers nitrile gloves, non-surgical gowns, and testing swabs to the public. If you are in search of a large quantity bulk PPE, you’ve arrived at a safe, FDA-approved destination. Contact MRI today at: (224) 268-6428 / Sales@mri-care.com WHOLESALE PRICING AND SAME DAY SHIPPING AVAILABLE.

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