WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — As concern grows for medial professionals who are working hands-on with COVID-19 patients, United Regional officials want to remind Texomans they are working to ensure safety for their employees.
With limited supplies, though, marketing and communications coordinator Patrick Johnston stated in a press release they have to use personal protective equipment according to the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
“To manage inventory during the pandemic, medical protective gear must be preserved for those who are engaged in direct care of confirmed or potential coronavirus patients. Therefore, medical-grade masks should not be used beyond existing PPE guidelines,” Johnston stated in a press release. “In addition, if someone with a cloth mask must enter the room of a patient who has respiratory symptoms, their cloth mask must be exchanged for a medical-grade mask beforehand.”
While medical-grade masks are restricted for certain usages, Johnston stated for those wanting to wear cloth masks “although this is only a recommendation and should not be construed as a requirement at this time, United Regional employees were made aware that they certainly have the option to do so.”
“It’s very important to note, however, that the CDC is not calling for widespread use of medical-grade masks (i.e., surgical masks, N-95s, etc.) at this time,” Infection Control manager April Little stated in a press release. “Also, everyone coming into our facilities is now being screened, which is an additional layer of protection.”
However, folks in the community are wanting to help in any way they can to support those working at the hospital. Johnston stated volunteers with the United Regional Auxiliary Sewing Group have offered to assist with sewing cloth masks.
“We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community during this time,” Community Relations Director Kim Maddin said. “Numerous volunteers have contacted United Regional to offer hand-sewn cloth face coverings. Although these are not medical-grade masks and could not be used in the care of positive or suspected COVID-19 patients, they do provide additional peace of mind to staff who do not otherwise require PPE.”