MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WMBF) – Administrators with Tidelands Health announced new guidance for the use of personal protective equipment by employees ahead of a “surge of patients” due to the spread of COVID-19.
Information was shared with Tidelands Health staff Sunday and posted to social media following a post by the spouse of a hospitalized employee who made allegations about the availability and use of PPE.
Tidelands Health officials confirmed the employee remains hospitalized and is listed in good condition.
“Health care professionals in our facilities have access to appropriate PPE to care for all patients, including those who are COVID-19 positive and those who are considered “persons under investigation,” the post on Tidelands Health’s Facebook page stated. “Because of the tremendous work of our materials management team, PPE, including N95 respirators, PAPRs, face shields, isolation gowns, gloves and more, is in stock and available for appropriate use.”
The letter to Tidelands Health employees states computer modeling shows the area is three weeks or more from the peak spread of COVID-19 in the community.
“A surge of patients is coming. They are going to need us, and we are going to need PPE to care for them,” according to Tidelands Health administrators.
Expanded PPE guidance for Tidelands Health employees takes effect April 6. According to the guidance, the use of masks is expanded to include all employees who are in direct patient care roles. The type of mask to be work will be determined by risk stratification or department area.
Tidelands Health employees who work in non-direct patient care roles but for whom it may be difficult to maintain six feet of separation from others may choose to wear a cloth mask with filter insert.
“We are more fortunate than many hospitals in that we have a good supply of PPE – including the tens of thousands of never-used N95 respirators our community is helping retrofit with new elastic bands. But our supply is not limitless. Our materials management team is following every lead to purchase additional PPE, but we all know there’s a worldwide shortage. That’s the reality we face,” officials stated.
Tidelands Health administrators asked that employees use PPE appropriately in an effort to not deplete the stockpile. They added that no employee has been or will be disciplined or fired for wearing PPE.
“We will continue to do everything in our power to fight for you and to protect you, just as you fight for our patients daily,” the letter stated.