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Nurse urges people to turn over N95 masks to San Diego hospitals

Posted at 12:22 PM, Mar 23, 2020

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Healthcare workers in San Diego and across the country are dealing with shortages in much-needed supplies, particularly N95 masks that could help protect medical professionals and patients from further spread of COVID-19.

A retired San Diego-area nurse named Kathy is begging, on behalf of colleagues who are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, that people who hoarded them early on or who may have them for other occupations, turn them in to local hospitals.

Kathy said manufacturing companies are now playing catch up to make the necessary equipment to keep medical staff and patients safe, and she fears it still won't be enough.

She cited colleagues who are now reusing masks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated protocols to allow for the reusing of certain kinds of medical equipment, including surgical masks in some circumstances.

Kathy, who spoke to 10News via Skype from her home in Carlsbad, said many of the colleagues she spoke to don't feel safe in doing so because it's jeopardizing patients and themselves, but they also fear retaliation for speaking out.

She said she knows there is more equipment out there, and she is asking those who work in dental offices, or as woodworkers or in construction, to turn in any N95 masks in to local hospitals, trusting that by the time they're able to go back to work themselves, more masks will be available for them.

"It’s the front lines," Kathy said. "It’s so sad because once those healthcare workers get sick, who is going to be in the hospitals, running the ventilators, taking care of these patients?"

10News reached out to San Diego providers Sharp HealthCare, Scripps Health, and UC San Diego Medical Center to find out if they're accepting donations from the public of N95 masks.

A spokesperson for Sharp said this Wednesday, Sharp will be launching an initiative to accept community donations of N95 masks and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and supplies. Details will be forthcoming.

UC San Diego said similar plans would be outlined this week, but that their supply was currently adequate.

Scripps sent 10News the following statement:

Scripps Health is accepting donations of N95 masks/respirators; surgical/procedural masks; isolation/impervious gowns; non-latex gloves; eye protection; disinfecting wipes; hand sanitizer and hand soap. Contact Scripps at supplychainmanagement@scrippshealth.org to discuss the donation and arrange for delivery.