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Healthcare workers make fresh appeal for PPE donations as HSE chief says it’s like ‘gold dust’

HSE boss Paul Reid says the behaviour of some countries is akin to “modern-day piracy”.

HEALTHCARE STAFF WORKING on the frontline of Ireland’s Covid-19 outbreak have made a fresh appeal for members of the public to donate items of personal protective equipment, as HSE boss Paul Reid says acquiring PPE remains “challenging”.

In a video posted on Twitter, Anne Marie McLaughlin, who works at St James’s Hospital in Dublin, explained that they are in need of long-sleeved gowns that healthcare workers can wear while in contact with patients.

The consultant respiratory physician thanked members of the public who donated PPE, since she made an initial appeal in late March, and explained the latest request:

We’re looking for gowns that our healthcare workers can wear when visiting patients. These gowns are in particular long-sleeved gowns and they’re made of material which is impermeable to liquids.

“If you have such gowns available and are in a position to donate them we would be most grateful,” she added. 

Anyone who can donate unused and unopened long-sleeved gowns is asked to email [email protected]

Speaking at a weekly operational update in UCD this morning, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said that the extraordinary global demand for PPE means it is now like “gold dust” and countries are paying a “premium price” to secure the equipment.

Reid said the actions of some countries was akin to “modern-day piracy”.

“When I mention the word ‘piracy’, what I actually mean is, whether it’s for PPE, ventilators, reagents, as soon as you think you have a stock secured, somebody somewhere in the world is outbidding you. Whether it’s at the delivery stage or it’s nearly at the export stage,” he said.

Despite this cut-throat environment Ireland has, so far, not lost any orders it has placed with suppliers.

Reid added that this situation will continue for some time and he asked healthcare workers to be “prudent” in their use of the equipment.

“We want to get significant stock in hand for distribution but we will always ask for people to be prudent, particularly through a world pandemic that we’re dealing with,” he said.

Speaking at the briefing, Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said that the stock of gowns has been enhanced significantly on the back of recent shipments but it remains important that they are used appropriately.

“Given the ongoing demand, which is unprecedented not just in hospitals but in the community, our language and our advice to our staff is the same,” Dr Henry said.

We want to protect them. We want to protect patients. We want to avoid transmission. We want those gowns and all elements of PPE to be used in the appropriate clinical settings.

“That’s where that term ‘prudence’ comes in. We don’t want them misused in inappropriate clinical settings because that means somebody else who needs the gown, or needs the gloves, needs the goggles, may not have access,” he added.

Reid added that a total of 11 million gowns will be delivered over the course of the coming weeks on several flights.

Ireland is expecting a second batch of PPE, worth €130 million, to arrive from China shortly. As well as gowns the delivery will include 7.5 million gloves, 2.5 million face shields, 6 million respirator masks, 10 million surgical masks, and 3 million gloves.

Yesterday Ireland’s Covid-19 death toll increased by 41 to 571. Health officials also reported 778 newly confirmed cases, bringing the total number since the outbreak began to 14,758. 

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