Need for Appropriate PPE Provision for Sonoma County Health Workers

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In Sonoma County, we have successfully flattened the curve to help our health care systems better prepare to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Kudos to the County leadership and populace for this success! HOWEVER, the risks of the pandemic are still very real for our community, and our health workers (doctors, nurses, CNAs, environmental services, techs, nutritional services, etc) need additional support in advocating for increased availability and usage of appropriate PPE. 

Without sufficient PPE, the lives of healthcare workers are at greater risk, and the crisis will be prolonged. To increase the chance to return to 'normal,' we must ensure their safety. The impact of the projected COVID-19 surge in Sonoma Country is expected to be very manageable by our current health care systems. We need to act to make the impact even less!

Many of our health care systems are operating under the policies of resource scarcity--with the concern that if we use appropriate PPE, we will run out--an approach that is supported by inadequate CDC guidelines. For example, most prominently, Kaiser SR Hospital is not providing N95 masks for staff taking care of COVID+ patients and Patients Under Investigation (PUIs). More lax PPE policies save the health system money, but increase the risks to health workers, and increases the risk that WE become significant vectors in our community. We need to demand even more conservative PPE policies to provide MORE protection to our staff. Please note that some institutions are doing a better job than others. We need consistency and a set high standard of care. 

As health care professionals in Sonoma County, we have reached out to ask that the Public Health Officer, Dr. Mase, release a Public Health Order that requires all healthcare facilities in Sonoma County to follow the Stanford University Protocol or Cal/OSHA recommendations to better protect our frontline healthcare workers. We ask that the Public Health Department hold all healthcare facilities accountable to caring for our community, regardless of the higher-level policies created by their behemoth, multi-state health organizations. We ask that our state and local representatives fight to make sure our health care professionals are protected. And finally, we ask that you, readers, hold each of the above parties accountable to protecting the health professional heroes in Sonoma County, which by extension, enhances the protection of each of you.

For healthcare professionals, please sign with your discipline. For general public, please sign and note your healthcare organizations you go to as a patient. Thanks!