The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to stockpile more than $2 million worth of personal protective equipment to help address potential shortages among healthcare facilities treating suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola.
Products include impermeable gowns, coveralls and aprons; boot covers; gloves; face shields and hoods; N95 respirators; powered-air purifying respirator systems and ancillaries; and disinfecting wipes. The protective equipment will be configured into 50 kits and kept at CDC Strategic National Stockpile facilities for rapid deployment to hospitals. Each kit will have enough supplies to provide a clinical team with the PPE needed to manage the care of one Ebola patient for up to five days, according to the agency.
“We are making certain to not disrupt the orders submitted by states and hospitals, but we are building our stocks so that we can assist when needed,” said Greg Burel, director of the CDC's Division of Strategic National Stockpile. “Some of these products are not normally used by hospitals for regular patient care.”
Purchases are based on the CDC's revised protective guidance for caring for Ebola patients issued Oct. 20.
The kits are intended to provide hospitals with short-term assistance to supplement their PPE supply in the event additional equipment is needed but not readily available.
The CDC said demand for PPE has suddenly spiked since the agency came out with its safety recommendations for healthcare workers when treating Ebola cases.
This latest action could be viewed as a reaction to public criticism over the federal government's handling of the Ebola epidemic, and its overall readiness to address future disease threats.
An audit released in August by the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General's Office found much of the emergency supplies stockpiled by the agency had been there since 2006.
The report stated 81% of the more than 296,000 doses of the influenza medications Tamiflu and Relenza within the department's stockpile that was intended for its workforce were set to expire in 2015.
Concerns over the safety of the healthcare workforce have been heightened ever since two nurses at a Dallas hospital contracted Ebola while treating a patient. Both Nina Pham, 26, and Amber Vinson, 29, have recovered.
This week, the Obama administration requested $6.18 billion in emergency funding to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and prepare the U.S. in the event more cases develop.
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