An Update on Personal Protective Equipment

May 1, 2020
Weekly Columns

Even though Governor Hutchinson has begun the process of reopening Arkansas, that doesn’t mean things will immediately return to normal. Doctors and nurses on the front lines of COVID-19 relief still need vast amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE) for their daily work, and rural health clinics performing elective procedures and other services will also have an increased need for PPE. Our state leaders have been working around the clock to get much-needed PPE distributed across the state, and I wanted to share some updates on where to acquire PPE and the current status of supplies.

PPE requests from private clinics go through the Arkansas Medical Society (AMS), via this site: AMS will coordinate all those requests while working directly with the clinics. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities should contact the Arkansas Health Care Association to coordinate their PPE requests. PPE allocation for all first responders is given to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) Area Coordinators for each of our five regions. They take it to the County Emergency Manager, who distributes it out to the individual groups in their counties.

Arkansas has also just received equipment known as the Battelle Decontamination System, which will take used N95 masks, decontaminate them and make them fit for reuse. The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is in ongoing meetings with hospitals, EMS officials and local emergency managers, and will soon issue specific instructions on collection and transportation procedures. The transport to and from and the use of the system is free of charge to all entities using it.

Finally, as more businesses and services reopen across the state, officials are encouraging them to use cloth or other handmade masks and reserve medical masks for emergency personnel. Many vendors in the state have switched operations to make and distribute cloth masks, so the supply continues to grow.

If you have further questions about PPE or anything else regarding COVID-19, reach out to my office anytime at (501) 609-9796.