At the beginning of the pandemic personal protective equipment was in short supply and while things have largely improved there’s still a need out there.
“For health care workers who are fit tested we aren’t always able to find a specific N95 mask that they have been qualified and fit-tested for so then we find ourselves having to do the fit testing again,” Nichelle Mullins, CEO of Charter Oak Health Center, said.
It’s still not easy to find certain PPE– and Mullins knows first hand.
“It’s definitely been difficult finding N95 masks and other PPE like gloves,” Mullins said.
The governor’s office said the state of Connecticut still has a 90 day supply and will act as a backstop if places like Charter Oak Health Center run out of supplies. However, the biweekly distribution of supplies ended this fall.
“The prices are inflated right now. So we have to make a decision about whether we want to pay twice as much for a glove right now or wait until our name pops up from the wait list,” Mullins said.
That’s why the donation of 1,000 N95 masks from Connecticut Biotech was so appreciated.
“Donations like this are wonderful and very much appreciated. I have to say early on in the pandemic DPH was supplying shipments of PPE to the federally qualified health centers almost on a biweekly basis so that was extremely helpful,” Mullins said.
The governor’s office said the state has purchased over $181 million-worth of PPE since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, private companies are stepping in to help out. Bruce Morris of Connecticut Biotech said they are one of seven organizations with N95 deliveries.
“There was a need of all these different nonprofits that had shortfalls and anticipated shortfalls and at that point we began stretching out and investing and now we’re here distributing,” Morris, the company's communications director, said.
Connecticut Biotech manufactures mask frames that make a surgical mask fit better to a persons face.
“We’re trying to make sure the challenge that Nichelle is having with inflated prices that that’s not the issue that we can provide high-quality PPE to our providers,” Morris said.