Local healthcare facilities deal with face mask shortage
MCHS looks to community assistance
By Kris Leonhardt, Multi Media Channels
MARSHFIELD – Wisconsin healthcare facilities are developing strategies to handle the shortage of face masks during the nationwide shortage, caused by the spread of COVID-19.
While some medical facilities, such as Aspirus, look to the ”limited reuse of N95 masks” following CDC guidance, others are seeking help from the public.
According to an American Society of Health-System Pharmacists report released on March 19, just 44 percent of over 400 pharmacists surveyed had not seen a disruption in the mask supply, while the other 56 percent had been affected in some way.
To handle the shortage, Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation is asking for donations of sewn face masks to alleviate the shortage.
“I think one of our largest concerns, as every healthcare system in the country and world right now, is running out of what we call PPE, which is personal protective equipment, and we are working to rationalize what we have,” said Marshfield Medical Center Chief Philanthropy Officer Teri Wilczek.
“Right now, instead of providing our patients with the masks that really our healthcare providers need. These masks will be available to patients as they come into our facilities, to make sure that they are protected. And CDC has approved these as a barrier during these times. So, it keeps the patients and visitors safe, it keeps our healthcare providers safe. But, it is an absolute urgent need, and we were told to get every mask we possibly can. It’s not like we need a hundred, we need thousands of these.”
The masks will be provided to patients and family members as they walk in the facilities.
“Then they will be taken and washed and sanitized and reused,” Wilczek said. “So, they can continue to keep more people safe.
“Our infection controls, our quality improvement people are involved in every step along the way.”
Instructions to make the masks may be found on the Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation Facebook page. Clean fabric must be used and masks can be made with elastic or ties.
“We have drop off locations, everywhere from Rice Lake to Minocqua to Eau Claire to Wausau, and everywhere in between,” Wilczek added.
Drop-off locations include: MCHS Wellness Center, Tuesday and Friday, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., 717 Western Street, Marshfield; or AbbyBank, 305 S. 18th Avenue, Wausau, Drop off bin in building lobby. Many more drop-off locations are listed on the Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation Facebook page.