ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida has spent more than $500 million on emergency supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic as personal protective equipment remains in high demand worldwide, including for many hospitals and counties in Central Florida.
It’s been more than a month since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Central Florida health care workers and first responders are still on the front lines fighting the virus.
Weeks into the fight, News 6 wanted to know where Central Florida stands with the supply of personal protective equipment.
Susan Stallard, the assistant vice president of Orlando Health and chief quality officer for Orlando Health Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, said she is on a team that’s monitoring the hospital’s supply of PPE.
"It is a global shortage, so everyone is competing for that PPE, but we still do have some orders coming through," Stallard said.
Stallard said right now they, have enough PPE to make sure hospital staff members have what they need when they need it. She said she thinks they have enough supply to get them through the pandemic.
"I think the good news is that the projections that we have been looking at with our strategy team in terms of the number of cases that are in the community and matching up against our PPE demands is looking much more favorable than we originally thought," she said.
She said there is still high demand for PPE.
"There's a global shortage, but right now we are prepared and like I said, we have contingency strategies that we have in place that are all in accordance with CDC guidelines to ensure that we have what we need through the duration," Stallard said.
News 6 contacted officials from several Central Florida hospital systems about their supply and received the following statements:
"The health of our physicians and team members [is] of utmost importance, and it’s vital that we protect our workforce.
Clinicians who provide direct care to patients with or suspected of having COVID-19 are given appropriate protective equipment, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because of global product shortages, it’s important that we are good stewards of our resources today so we have adequate supplies to safeguard our workforce and care for our community in the future.
As of today, our teams have the appropriate level of masks and protective gear based on their role and the level of direct care.
Donors of all kinds – not specific to PPE -- can go here: www.AdventHealth.com/COVID19Relief"
"We currently have an ample supply of personal protective equipment. We are constantly evaluating our resources and are frequently receiving shipments of all types of PPE, including face masks. We decontaminate as many used masks as possible to responsibly conserve resources in case they are needed.
We are happy to accept cloth mask donations. In accordance with CDC guidelines, these facemasks will only be used as a crisis response option. They must be made of a cloth fabric measuring 7 inches in length, 3 ½ inches in width, and the height of the earloop should be 2 ½ inches. These masks may be dropped off at the Health First Distribution Center – 7196 Waelti Drive in Melbourne from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday."
HCA Healthcare North Florida
"HCA Healthcare hospitals across the country, including our four hospitals in Central Florida (Central Florida Regional Hospital, Oviedo Medical Center, Osceola Regional Medical Center and Poinciana Medical Center), began emergency planning efforts months ago. Our priority is to protect our frontline clinicians and caregivers so they are able to continue to care for our patients and our community.
While we have the supplies and equipment we need at this time, we are doing everything possible to secure products, as the worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks, face shields, and gowns is a reality that we are addressing with realistic, workable solutions.
To help ensure our caregivers and patients continue to have enough supplies and equipment, hospitals across the nation including ours are implementing steps recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to conserve PPE. All HCA Healthcare hospitals have enacted universal masking for all of our employees, appointed a PPE Steward to oversee priority deployment of PPE effective for COVID-19 where and when it is needed most, and created strategically located PPE distribution centers across our facilities to quickly deliver equipment. We adopted specific protocols, outlined by the CDC, for the appropriate reuse of certain PPE and we are asking our colleagues to conserve these items by following, but not exceeding, the guidelines for infection prevention. Additionally, we are allowing for the use of both N95 masks as well as standard facemasks. Since COVID-19 is spread by droplets, in most instances standard face mask offer adequate protection. These decisions are based on known evidence and guidance from the CDC, and are being implementing to protect our colleagues and our patients.
We continue to plan by accessing the resources, support and best practices across HCA Healthcare to help ensure we remain able to meet the needs of the communities we serve as the situation continues to evolve.
Being a part of HCA Healthcare means our hospital can leverage a large network of experts and resources. One of the advantages of being a national hospital network is that HCA Healthcare has a logistics infrastructure capable of moving vital resources to areas where they are needed. This impressive ability has been accessed now in response to COVID19, and before, here in Florida when hurricanes have ravaged parts of our state. When there is a need, we have access to support beyond our walls – a benefit to our colleagues, our patients and the community.”
"At Nemours Children’s Hospital, in accordance to guidance from the CDC and Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, Level 1 disposable ear loop masks are required for all our providers who perform direct patient care. For our other associates, cloth masks with fluid-resistant inserts are being made available, thanks to volunteers who have donated time or materials to create them on site at NCH in a conference room that is now dedicated to sewing.
Donations are being accepted – and a priority list of items can be found on Nemours.org site at https://www.nemours.org/about/coronavirus-donations.html
Nemours Children’s Hospital has been the recipient of incredible generosity from the community – from donations to supplies to hand-sewn masks to food. We thank all the individuals, groups, volunteers, schools and local businesses who have come forward to support us."
News 6 also contacted officials from local police departments and other agencies about their PPE supply. Here’s what they said:
Orlando Police Department
“The Orlando Police Department has the PPE equipment it needs right now, today, and we working to ensure we have the supplies necessary for an ongoing response, long-term. Every day we pursue every opportunity with local businesses and private vendors, as well as county, state, and federal governments, to obtain the critical PPE our officers and personnel need to remain on the job, serving and protecting the City of Orlando. If any residents or local businesses wish to donate critical PPE supplies in their possession, we would encourage those donations on behalf of our first-responders.”
Seminole County Office of Emergency Management
Chief Administrator Alan Harris told News 6 it is more difficult to obtain N95 masks compared to other PPE. He said state and federal government resources have been helpful. Anyone who wants to donate supplies can call the Citizens Information Hotline at 407-665-0000.
Flagler County Emergency Management
Director Jonathan Lord said they are not out of anything, but they do have limited stock. He said it is hard to purchase PPE, adding many companies are requiring money up front. He said some items were purchased for cheaper before COVID-19, but it’s unclear if that is because of price gouging versus supply and demand. Anyone who wants to donate can call 386-313-4200.
Osceola County Office of Emergency Management
Director Bill Litton said they receive shipments of supplies on a weekly basis which, are dispersed to health care workers, first responders and other agencies who need the PPE. He said he’s received calls from local hospitals and law enforcement agencies saying they need large gloves and he’s worried about running low on those items, so he’s put in a request for more with the state.
The Orlando Chinese Professionals Association donated $10,000 worth of PPE to AdventHealth on Friday. Angela Gao, the organization's president, said they are doing their part to help meet the high demand for PPE.
“We know they are in a big shortage right now, so this is something we try to purchase from overseas to contribute a little bit to our community,” Gao said.