Physicians for PPE in NH
Physicians for PPE in NH
Dear Governor Sununu,
We, the undersigned, are a diverse group of New Hampshire physicians (and supporters) with expertise in emergency medicine, hospital medicine, infectious diseases, surgical and medical specialties, public health, and primary care. We practice in world renowned hospitals, safety-net hospitals, community hospitals and ambulatory centers. We are working hard to combat this pandemic, but we are calling upon you to take action now to protect the lives of physicians and health care workers across our state.
The ongoing rates of community transmission and the severe shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) translates to physicians and other health care workers being asked to choose between their own lives and those of their patients. No one would imagine sending firefighters into a blazing fire without proper clothing and equipment, but our physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers are being asked to treat COVID-19 patients without protective gear.
Hospital policies regarding PPE access vary across the state, and can be perceived as practical decisions based on available resources, which raises fears about safety and profoundly undermines morale. Some physicians report having no access to protective gear. Some physicians have had to make heart wrenching decisions to live apart from their children and spouses due to fear of infecting their loved ones with COVID due to inadequate PPE. Some have been forced to leave their life’s calling to stay alive. Can we imagine asking hundreds of thousands of firefighters to make their own homemade fire-protective gear before combating the fire they are running into, and essentially spreading that fire to their homes? Can we imagine sending soldiers into war without a helmet or flak jacket?
We urge you to mobilize leaders of corporations and community organizations in a war-like fashion across the State of New Hampshire to halt community transmission and to produce, purchase and provide PPE. We ask that you join forces with other governors and state officials to sound a clarion call across the United States. We cannot and should not wait for the federal government. Here is what we need:
Please communicate clearly that ALL public gatherings of ANY size are prohibited. Without this step, our health care system may collapse. Cases of COVID-19 are continuing to double every 2-3 days.
Work with other governors to institute a true National 2 week pause - a cessation of all nonessential activities. If all of us across the country simultaneously distanced ourselves from one another for at least two weeks, community transmission would slow down significantly, allowing time to produce, purchase, and provide essential PPE and equipment to our physicians and health care staff.
Personal protective equipment needs to be equitably delivered immediately to all physicians and health care staff, to allow each employee caring for patients reliable access to hospital-grade N95 masks, ear loop masks, face shields, and other essential protective gear including but not limited to p100 respirators and filters, gowns, hand sanitizer, PAPRs and full coverage suits.
We call upon 3M and similar companies to halt production of all other products to focus on PPE manufacturing -- N95 and other masks, gowns, gloves, face shields, eye protection.
We call upon plastic manufacturers to focus on production of protective gowns, face shields, gloves and other medical items.
We call upon companies like Amazon, courier companies, and USPS to focus on delivering the PPE to the healthcare force. We ask that the National Guard be called upon to help with delivery of PPE to healthcare workers.
We urge philanthropists and corporations to donate money to purchase or manufacture these items.
We urge Proctor and Gamble and similar companies to focus on hand sanitizers, soaps, detergents and disinfectant wipes. These products are critical for washing and disinfecting hands, hospital scrubs, gowns, linens, and hospital surfaces.
We urge you to work with other governors to pressure the president to immediately use the DPA to increase the domestic production of medical supplies and equipment.
To defeat the pandemic without freezing the economy, widespread, easily accessible, COVID-19 tests need to be available immediately.
We need to perform more covid testing per day in New Hampshire to understand community transmission. Currently we are performing much fewer tests per day than are adequate.
Please purchase and provide the now FDA-approved rapid, point-of-care diagnostic for coronavirus allowing physicians to diagnose the disease in about 45 minutes.
We need to establish COVID-19 testing centers organized by infectious disease and public health experts, available for asymptomatic people as well as symptomatic people. This will enable us to understand where community transmission is occurring and avoid spreading the infection through our health-care system.
We urge you to include infectious disease and public health experts as well as frontline clinicians in your Command Center and we ask for transparency surrounding these advisors. The surge in the number of critically ill patients will increase demand for crucial life-saving medications and treatment (ventilators, endotracheal tubes, IV tubing, etc.), and these experts will help you mobilize appropriate biotechnology and manufacturing companies to ramp up production according to needs.
New Hampshire has a wealth of experts and innovative minds who lead corporations and institutions. Collectively we can solve this crisis. Every day of delay results in doubled or tripled loss of life. More people could die from COVID-19 in just a few months than have died in every single war this country has fought since its inception.
We urge you to take immediate action to harness the power of the State of NH to protect the lives of our physicians, health care staff, and their families, and the lives of current and future patients.
and Thank you to Dr. Stephen Epstein/Massachusetts petitionersfor allowing the use of his wise words.
Photo credit: Dr. Charlotte Smith
Sincerely, the undersigned physicians and supporters