News Release

Amid equipment and testing shortages, health professionals call for transparent, central coordination from Trump administration

For Immediate Release

Amid equipment and testing shortages, health professionals call for transparent, central coordination from Trump administration

BOSTON-  U.S. PIRG, Get Us PPE, Doctors for America, Massachusetts Nurses Association, the Massachusetts Public Health Association and several other health groups along with nearly 300 medical professionals sent a letter to the Trump Administration today calling for central coordination of the medical supply chain and comprehensive testing infrastructure. More than two months into the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, health professionals say they still lack adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep them safe.

“We need to take care of health professionals so that they can take care of the rest of us. The lack of masks, gowns and other protective equipment not only puts their health at risk, it also hinders the kind of widespread testing efforts we need to get out of this nightmare,” said Deirdre Cummings, MASSPIRG’s legislative director.

Rather than coordinating the supply chain and establishing a transparent system to get medical supplies directly to areas in need, the federal government seems more focused on funneling supplies to private companies. In some cases, suppliers are charging outrageous prices. The result is that states, local governments, and hospitals are competing against each other for overpriced supplies, and healthcare workers aren't getting what they need to protect themselves and save lives.

According to the American Health Care Association, three quarters of its members are running out of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gowns, and 60% have resorted to reusing or making their own equipment.

"I've seen firsthand the need to ensure we have enough gowns, masks and other safety gear not only to protect first responders and medical staff, but to protect our patients and their families," said Dr. David M. Brams, General Surgeon, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, MA, one of the signers of the letter. 

“As frontline nurses who are risking their lives and the lives of their families every day to keep us all safe, we know better than anyone, combatting the novel coronavirus is a health crisis which puts us, as so many have said, in uncharted waters,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, President of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, the professional association and union that represents nurses working in 70 percent of the state’s hospitals.

“As healthcare providers, many of us feel abandoned by our federal government and the lack of a national coordinated effort to address this pandemic. Not only do we suffer from insufficient access to personal protective equipment, but without regular testing to identify infections early we can’t protect ourselves let alone our colleagues, patients and loved ones at home,” said Val Griffeth, MD, PhD, Co-founder of Get Us PPE. 

 

Public health experts agree that widespread, comprehensive testing is a key criterion for safely lifting stay at home restrictions. The federal government should take the lead on establishing comprehensive testing infrastructure, not push it off to the states. If our health care professionals don’t have adequate PPE, they can’t safely administer those tests. Therefore, ensuring a steady, reliable supply of PPE is the key to the ongoing testing we’ll need to ensure the safety of reopening large swaths of the country. 

Copy of letter and full list of signers

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MASSPIRG is a statewide nonprofit nonpartisan public interest advocacy organization

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