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Nurses Worried About PPE Shortage, Second Coronavirus Surge

BOSTON (CBS) – Some hospitals and nurses are worried about a second surge of coronavirus and whether there's enough protective equipment to handle it.

Nurses are concerned about the messages they're getting from management. Some are being told to re-use masks or buy their own.

Nurses at Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital says the facility is rationing PPE and telling workers to reuse their masks. Some have concerns that a chemical decontamination process could be making them sick.

"We haven't had time to do long term studies on reprocessing," said Kim Hollon, CEO of Signature Healthcare Brockton. "The FDA I think has done the best job they could as a federal agency to give us guidance when there was not enough masks available and we are following their guidance and their scientists."

Nurses at South Shore Hospital say they have been told to use the masks for up to five shifts. They got an email from the chief of surgery that said, "We are developing a shortage of the mask face shield combination." It went on to say, "You should outfit yourself with eye protection" and offered an Amazon link to buy the masks. The message ended with, "Forewarned is forearmed. Please prepare yourself for the upcoming shortage."

Christine Pontus of the Massachusetts Nurses Association said it is wrong. "Are you kidding me? They should be giving that to them. It's part of their PPE," Pontus said. "Is this a safety concern? Yes. Am I concerned? Yes,"

In a statement, South Shore Hospital said the email was not an official organizational communication and that it has an adequate supply of PPE on hand. The scramble for PPE started early in the pandemic and it seems with new concerns of another surge hospitals and nurses are still looking for supplies.

South Shore Hospital said it monitors its supply of PPE daily. Signature Healthcare said it is expecting a shipment of 110,000 masks next month.

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