n95 smIn a press conference on May 19, and again on Northern California Public Media's May 26 Town Hall, members of the group H-PEACE (Health Professionals for Equality and Community Empowerment) stated that not all health workers in Sonoma County are being protected by state of the art personal protective equipment.
 
Specifically, they said they'd heard complaints that N95 masks were sometimes lacking in situations in which they would be necessary for those with increased exposure to COVID-19.
 
We asked Kaiser Permanente about this situation, and received the following statement from David Ebright, public affairs manager, Kaiser Permanente, Marin Sonoma:

Kaiser Permanente’s top priority is the safety of our patients and staff.

To suggest we are not providing appropriate protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks, is inaccurate.  We provide our staff with the protective equipment that is aligned with the latest science and guidance from public health authorities and appropriate for the level of care being provided. These are the supplies and equipment that are also being used by hospital systems in California and across the nation. We cannot assure the integrity of protective equipment not provided by Kaiser Permanente and we do not ask staff to provide their own PPE.

Staff members working with patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, or in units with COVID-19 patients, wear an isolation / procedure mask, disposable gowns, gloves, and protective eyewear (such as goggles or face shields). 

Staff members wear N95 masks when in defined locations in the hospital that cohort patients suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

In addition, for patients with possible COVID who are undergoing high-risk procedures with a risk for aerosolization of the coronavirus such as intubation, extubation, bronchoscopy and nebulizer treatments, in addition to face shield/goggles, gowns, and gloves, staff members participating or assisting in these procedures are required to wear N95 respirators. Environmental Services workers (i.e., housekeeping, custodial) do not directly participate in these procedures. However, our Environmental Services employees are trained on the use of PPE and wear the appropriate PPE, including N95s and goggles provided by Kaiser Permanente, whenever room precautions necessitate that level of protection. 

We have the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect our teams today. We are prudently managing our resources to ensure this equipment is available for our health care workforce for the duration of this pandemic. At the same time, we are aggressively working to secure additional PPE and other critical supplies to safeguard our employees and physicians in our medical centers in accordance with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization guidelines, as well as guidance from our own infectious disease experts for clinical quality and safety. Our goal is to ensure we have adequate access to the protective equipment and medical supplies needed for the screening and treatment of COVID-19 patients now and over the long run.

We are grateful to our entire staff for their dedication to our patients. We understand this is a stressful time and we encourage staff to raise concerns. We are in this fight together and we remain committed to protecting our valued care teams, including our nurses who are at the front line of care, as we continue to ensure the safety of our patients and staff.

See the H-PEACE Press Conference below:

 
 
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