Absent federal support, personal protection equipment still missing
State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, a trained epidemiologist, joined doctors and nurses from across Michigan to call on President Trump to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to provide hospitals with much needed equipment in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. They sounded the alarm in a video teleconference as infections surge in Detroit and across the state in the coming week.
“It was evident that COVID-19 preparedness should have begun at a much earlier time but the president responded in an utterly and wilfully ignorant manner,” said Hammoud. “The Defense Production Act needs to be activated to produce masks and protective equipment. We are at war with this virus.” Hammoud is among the many legislators in Lansing mourning the loss of their colleague, Rep. Issac Robinson who died suddenly this week of a suspected Covid-19 infection. Rep. Tyrone Carter also tested positive for the novel Coronavirus but is expected to recover.
“The biggest problem we have right now is the lack of personal protective equipment, or PPE. Everyone working with a suspected or confirmed COVID patient should be wearing an N95 mask. Right now, that’s not happening. It is not safe just to wear a surgical mask, and yet that’s what President Trump’s CDC is telling us,” said Jamie Brown, a critical care nurse in Kalamazoo and president of the Michigan Nurses Association. “At my hospital, we are given one N95 mask and expected to use it all shift, even though it is meant for one-time use. If President Trump were to show true leadership instead of wasting time insulting ‘that woman Governor’, he could make a difference. For example, he could use the Defense Production Act to make more PPE immediately to protect our frontline workers.”
“In the emergency department, we are accustomed to caring for critically ill patients and it is not unusual for every bed in the emergency department and in the hospital, particularly the intensive care units, to be full,” said Dr. Anne Messman, an emergency medicine physician in Detroit. “We are not accustomed to considering how many, if any, ventilators the hospital has. It is not our practice to have to decide who gets a ventilator and who does not.” Messman says that with enough ventilators, doctors could make decisions regarding the patient's clinical treatment based on what they know to be best for the patient, not based on the availability of supplies.
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