Hospital staff's personal protective equipment is going quickly in BC

Hospital equipment going fast

ORIGINAL: 4:35 p.m.

As confirmed cases of COVID-19, and associated hospitalizations, continues to rise in B.C., hospitals are going through personal protective equipment faster than expected.

During Wednesday's daily press conference, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said of the 659 COVID-19 cases in the province, 64 people have been hospitalized, with 26 of those requiring intensive care.

As a result of the increase in hospitalizations, Dr. Henry said they've seen a “dramatic increase” in the use of personal protective equipment used by healthcare staff, such as masks, gowns, gloves and face shields.

“The 'burn rate,' as we call it is much higher than we would have expected and we are putting in measures now to try and control that and be more efficient and effective in how we're using PPE,” Dr. Henry said. “We're looking at things like alternative supplies across the board, alternative ways of preserving personal protective equipment, so it is available both now and in the future. We're at a bit of a critical phase with personal protective equipment, this happened quite quickly.”

Dr. Henry said maintaining an adequate supply of these items as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase is the government's “wicked problem.”

“We now have increasing numbers of people in hospital and that is going through way more personal protective equipment than we expected,” Dr. Henry said. “We are at a tenuous level right now, but we do have a plan for that.”

Measures include separating COVID-19 patients in hospital so staff don't need to change their equipment when moving from COVID-19 patient to COVID-19 patient, along with reusing certain types of equipment.

As of Wednesday, nine long-term seniors care facilities in the Lower Mainland have been hit with outbreaks of COVID-19. This includes North Vancouver's Lynn Valley Care Centre, where 11 residents have died. This week, Dr. Henry issued an order to prohibit staff at long term care homes from working at multiple facilities.

There's been a relatively steady increase of COVID-19 cases in B.C. over the past week, and Dr. Henry said it's “heartening” that we haven't yet seen 24-hour doubling of COVID-19 hospitalizations so far, but she'd like to see decreases in growth as social distancing measures begin to take effect.

UPDATE: 3 p.m.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia continues to grow steadily, with another 42 announced on Wednesday. 

During the daily COVID-19 update, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the new cases bring the total in the province to 659, with 46 cases in the Interior Health region. 

Additionally, another resident at North Vancouver's Lynn Valley Care Centre has died from COVID-19. Sixty-four patients in the province are currently hospitalized, while the majority are recovering at home. 

Currently, 183 COVID-19 patients in the province have fully recovered. 

More to come...

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