Hospitals respond to concerns from MNA

Emily Ness
Updated: April 02, 2020 11:24 PM

As demand for personal protective gear continues in light of COVID-19, some are concerned about supplies dwindling down. Just this week, the Minnesota Nurses Association sent a letter to hospitals across the state expressing concerns about a lack of N-95 masks.


The association said without N-95 masks, nurses and patients are at risk. But, here at home, St. Luke’s and Essentia say they have been working for months to secure the supplies they need to continue treating patients and have developed Incident Command Centers where they keep track of what they have, what they’ve used and what they need.

“We have a running tally of our PPE across the board so that encompasses a lot of different devices. Different types of masks, different gloves, different face shields, googles so all of that in our system is on a spreadsheet,” St. Luke's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nicholas Van Deelen said.

Van Deelen denied allegations from the Minnesota Nurses Association that the hospital does not have enough personal protective equipment.

“In regard to the allegation that we’re not prepared for PPE, that’s just categorically untrue. We have been prepared. We have adequate stocks of PPE. We have been and continue to aggressively pursue other sources,” Van Deelen said.

Additionally, Van Deelen denied that healthcare providers have had to work without personal protective equipment.

“We are not aware of any cases where we’ve asked staff or staff has been asked to work without PPE. We would not endorse that as an organization ever,” Van Deelen said.

President of Essentia Health’s East Campus Dr. Jon Pryor said he is unsure if Essentia received the same letter St. Luke’s received, but he maintains that the safety of staff and employees is the hospital’s number one priority.

“To me that really doesn’t matter if we received it or not. We are working continuously every day, several times a day trying to be prepared for current state and for future state,” Pryor said.

As demand increases and hospitals need more equipment, however, both said they are planning ahead.

“Right now the federal government is really taking control of the usual supply chain so what we used to work through—we can put in orders, but those orders are being commandeered by the feds and then being brought to places that they really need it—New York City, those kind of areas,” Pryor said.

Both hospitals also said community support has helped.

“We have received 4,000 N95 masks from the community and 1,000 handmade masks from the community so that’s just amazing and really just shows how caring the community is in protecting us and the communities we serve,” Pryor said.

St. Luke’s and Essentia Health said they will continue to track what they have, what they’ve used and what they need to insure they have enough. Additionally, they will adhere to recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control.

“Our hearts and souls and minds are totally focused on this right now,” Pryor said.


Emily Ness

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