COVID-19: Sask. nurse says limited supply of protective masks puts healthcare workers at risk
Medical staff work at a computer terminal as they prepare for the opening of the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Brewer Park Arena in Ottawa, during a media tour on Friday, March 13, 2020. The assessment centre, operated by The Ottawa Hospital and CHEO, is an out-of-hospital clinic where people can be assessed and tested for COVID-19 if required. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
SASKATOON -- A frontline medical worker says a limited supply of protective medical equipment in the province is endangering health care staff.
"It puts them at risk," said a Saskatoon nurse, who CTV News has agreed not to name.
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A Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) memo obtained by CTV News advises staff to order low quantities of personal protective equipment (PPE).
"Please note that our inventory levels are extremely limited currently, as our vendors are enforcing strict allocation volumes due to increased global demand for PPE," the March 13 memo reads.
The nurse who CTV News spoke with said Saskatoon neo-natal nurses in particular, along with other "pockets" of frontline staff across the province, do not have adequate supplies of N95 respirator masks.
The masks can be effective in blocking viruses if appropriately fitted and used correctly.
"They are not being protected and there's probably several other groups that have the potential to be exposed to the virus," the nurse said.
"I know for a fact that the (SHA) N95 office is running over time trying to catch up."
During a provincial government conference call Tuesday afternoon, SHA infrastructure management director Derek Miller said getting N95 masks to frontline workers is a priority.
"We're working to get adequate stock to manage through this situation," Miller said.
The nurse CTV News spoke with said he's frustrated that the province wasn't better prepared for the realities of an illness like COVID-19.
"We have a potential pandemic happening every three to four years, there has to be preparedness and we have providers that are simply not prepared for it."