The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) on Wednesday pushed back on rumours of a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which is critical for the COVID-19 fight, saying the public general hospital is fully equipped with an adequate supply.
“There is no shortage of PPE supplies at the QEH and we are in constant communication and dialogue with our partners, with our suppliers,” said Stephanie Jackson, the QEH’s Deputy Director of Financial Services for Procurement and Budgeting.
She told Barbados TODAY that the hospital’s procurement department has moved from the previously mandated 12-week supply of PPE, to a six-month supply.
While taking a Barbados TODAY team on a brief tour of the procurement warehouse where the PPE supplies are being stored, Jackson said that she is currently in talks with the hospital’s suppliers on sourcing extra equipment.
“They have recognized that they need to assist us in this effort and we are all on board,” she said. “We have a meeting this morning, to ensure that we have our contingencies in place and to be assured of their ability to continually supply us. But as it stands right now, we do not have a shortage of PPE.”
The PPE includes surgical masks, coveralls, isolation gowns, booties, mop caps, goggles and face shields.
Jackson added: “Across QEH and the other isolation facilities [at Harrison’s Point and Blackman and Gollop Primary School] that we have, we use about 50,000 surgical masks a week, and about 1,500 isolation gowns a week as well. In terms of the coveralls, we use about 2,000 of them a week.”
The QEH started stockpiling PPE from January 2020 when the first reports of the COVID-19 outbreak in China came to light, she said. It was at that same time that Dr Corey Forde, the QEH’s Head of Infection Prevention and Control, issued a warning that the process of stockpiling the PPE should begin immediately.
Jackson told Barbados TODAY: “He has been actually pretty good at keeping on top of us and ensuring that we have the appropriate levels. He is always checking in. So from then, we have been stockpiling PPE and on a weekly basis, the PPE is monitored. And as we use, we replace the amounts so that we will always have the appropriate levels on hand.
“I will say that the supply chain has been disrupted by COVID, but because we have been stockpiling for so long we are kind of insulated from those disruptions and what we have recognized is that the key is to try to get ahead of it. So instead of waiting until you only have one week stock, you try to place your orders well in advance before you get to that one week.”
To ensure that clinical and medical teams always have access to PPE, a stock of emergency PPE has been placed in the nursing services department to allow medical professionals to access the protective gear at all hours, Jackson added.