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Local hospitals call for donations in face of nationwide shortages

Personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves, is in short supply
An example of a handmade face mask. Donations to local hospitals are becoming more common as health workers are confronted with a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment.

FARMINGTON – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the region, medical professionals and first responders on the front lines of the outbreak have faced diminishing supplies of personal protective equipment, and local hospitals are calling for donations in anticipation of low supplies.

San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington announced Wednesday it is accepting community donations of protective equipment.

“We are touched and grateful for the donations we have received,” the hospital said in a news release. “We continue to ask for your support at this time, especially as we face a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment.”

The hospital said it needed protective equipment like surgical masks and N95 masks – a respirator mask that filters air particles – to protect workers from the small droplets that transmit viruses like the coronavirus.

San Juan Regional is asking if anyone has N95 or surgical masks at home or their place of work that can be spared to consider donating them to the hospital. Donations can be dropped off at the main entrance to the hospital and collected by the security department, according to the medical center.

“We are doing all we can to make sure these masks are available for our health care workers for as long as we need them,” the hospital said.

In addition to the surgical and N95 masks, the medical center is accepting sewn masks made from community members. Although considered not as safe as a respirator mask, the hospital said donations of sewn face masks would still be acceptable, with a few recommendations. A mask constructed with two layers of tight flannel on the outside and tightly woven cotton on the inside – with the grain of the two fabrics aligned diagonally – is preferred.

“We have received about 25 so far but have been getting a lot of phone calls,” Laura Werbner, spokeswoman for San Juan Regional, said of the sewn masks. “We anticipate many, many more arriving very soon.”

Anyone interested in sewing masks is asked to call Teresa Becker, manager of Volunteer Services, for a pattern. Becker can be reached at (505) 609-6156.

Mercy Regional Medical Center also announced it was accepting donations of personal protective equipment for health care workers. In a news release, Centura Health – Mercy’s parent company – said it was accepting boxed masks and N95s, gloves still in manufacturer packaging, packaged gowns or rain ponchos with sleeves and face shields.

The hospital said it was “incredibly grateful for the influx of donated supplies.” Anyone looking to donate supplies to Mercy can drop off personal protective supplies from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the hospital.

Centura Health is not accepting donations of homemade masks because they “should be only considered as a last resort.” But if people are interested in making them, they should contact coviddonations@centura.org for a pattern and material details in the event that its policy changes.

People interested in helping are also encouraged to sign up to donate blood. Local blood centers are anticipating “up to a 35% decline in the coming weeks due to social distancing,” Centura said.


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