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Tips for Navigating the PPE Shortage

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By Stephanie Conquest, RN, CAIP

Infection prevention has come to the forefront of the daily narrative in the lives of citizens around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Back in February of this year, I remember seeing news reports showing people in China wearing surgical masks in public for protection against COVID-19. I knew then that a surgical mask shortage was inevitable, and planned accordingly. However, I never dreamed that the pandemic would become so widespread and that PPE of all kinds would eventually become difficult to obtain. Ten months into the pandemic, there is still a national PPE shortage impacting the delivery of care for healthcare facilities. Below are some suggested resources for navigating the PPE shortage.

Increased domestic production of PPE would serve to help end the PPE shortage, and provide job opportunities. Healthcare providers can advocate for increased domestic PPE production by contacting legislators and imploring them to provide funding to ramp up manufacturing. Production of PPE domestically would not only help the current shortage, but it could put the United States in a position to avoid future PPE global supply chain deficiencies.

If your facility is facing a PPE shortage, there are organizations who can help you find PPE. Here are some resources you can try: HealthEquip, Get US PPE, and AHRMM. These outlets partner with manufacturing facilities and distributors to get PPE into the hands of healthcare providers. Engineering controls and conservation strategies can help until the shortage is resolved. Recommendations for conservation can be found on the CDC website. For additional help facilitating conservation, use the CDC PPE burn rate calculator or the NIOSH PPE tracker app.