GALION — As are most hospitals across the nation, Avita Hospital in Galion is dealing with a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) to help fight COVID-19. But the hospital system continues to prep for a predicted surge of patients in coming weeks.
Amanda Hatcher, marketing director for Avita Hospitals in Galion, Bucyrus and Ontario, said they are especially in need of the N95 protective masks.
“There is a shortage of PPE nationwide, so we are actively searching for distributors and companies that have the FDA PPE available,” Hatcher said. We’re searching around the clock.
“Right now we’re in conservation mode. We’re actively conserving our supply of PPE, but that does not mean we’re not protecting our patients and employees. We’re utilizing it as indicated and as needed because the health and safety of our patients and our employees and medical providers are our top priorities. We are conserving PPE in conjunction with the recommendations from the CDC and the Ohio Department of Health.
“They recognize there is a shortage nationwide,” Hatcher said. We can’t utilize PPE today how we were a month ago, but we are still utilizing it safely for employees and patients.”
Hatcher said Avita in Galion has not seen an increase of patients with coronavirus symptoms, she said the hospital is prepping for a surge.
”From what we last heard from the ODH, they expect that influx in Ohio later in the month,” she said. “That of course could change tomorrow, but at this time we have not seen an influx of patients in our emergency department with COVID-19 symptoms.
“We have not have had a positive case yet at Avita. We had 61 tests out, and 27 of those as of Thursday came back negative. The rest are still pending. It takes awhile to get those tests back, from five to seven business days. But we are actively looking for new labs and new ways to get the tests back quicker.
“We’re all in this together. I think all health systems are facing the same challenges we are right now,” Hatcher said. “All labs are just bogged down with tests.”
At Galion Avita, Hatcher said there is a core group of a COVID response team who are working overtime, along with other personnel, so the hospital is prepared.
“I think we’re doing very well. We have a great team,” Hatcher said. “Working with them day in and day out they really are remarkable and they really are experts. Our supply chain? They’ve been keeping inventory, analyzing our PPE on a daily basis and ensuring we have sufficient quantities. Our teams are keeping everyone informed and having really good communication. We’re just getting prepared.”
Hatcher said the hospital is accepting donations of N95 masks. All donations have to be new and unopened. Also needed are surgical masks, face shields, gowns, gloves and hand sanitizer.
Those wishing to donate should get a hold of Tina Martin, who is coordinating donations. People may contact her at 419-468-0727.
“But we also want the public to know and remind them to also support the firefighters, the police and EMS with their donations of medical supplies. They also are on the front line with us,” Hatcher said.
To make a donation, contact the Crawford County EMA office or local health departments.
“We’re trying to keep everyone in the community safe,” she added. “We’ve had a wonderful response from the community when it comes to donations. From companies, and individuals. People are reaching out and supporting us. It’s been very humbling to see how much the community supports our services.”
Hatcher said people who have an emergency should still go to the emergency room or call 911.
But if they are experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19, they should call the COVID-19 information hotline at 419-468-0800. That hotline is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The people manning those calls will advise them what they should do.
However, anyone experiencing severe symptoms like shortness of breath should go to the emergency room.
“At the entrances at all of our emergency rooms we have employees wearing full PPE,” Hatcher said. “We have staff members and clinicians wearing full PPE. People are being screened and if they are having symptoms of COVID-19, they will be taken back to a negative air flow emergency department bay immediately upon arrival. That’s to protect them, the employees and other people in the hospital.”
Heather Fraizer and Cindy Laird have been meeting people at the entrance to Avita Hospital in Galion recently to take their temperature and to make sure they’re safe to get into the hospital.
This is one of the N95 masks that will be used at Avita Galion Hospital. It is one of the pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) that have been in the news in wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.