SALEM, Ore. — Over the weekend, the Oregon National Guard began distributing loads of sought-after personal protective equipment (PPE) to long term care facilities, according to Governor Kate Brown.
The first major shipments of PPE that the state received went directly to hospitals and public health agencies across the state, intended for front-line health care workers that are treating COVID-19 cases. Now, Brown says, nursing homes and other facilities that house the state's highly susceptible populations will receive supplies as well.
“The staff of Oregon's long-term care facilities are on the front lines of our fight against COVID-19, and I am committed to protecting their health and safety," said Governor Brown. "This critical equipment will help protect both them, and the residents of these facilities, who are among the most at-risk Oregonians for exposure and infection."
Though divided up among facilities around the state, Brown's office said that there were about 395,000 pieces of PPE in this shipment — including about 177,000 surgical masks, 127,000 gloves, 55,000 N95 masks, 33,000 face shields, and 2,500 gowns. That equipment is supposed to help those facilities prevent the spread of coronavirus among residents and staff.
"Long-term care providers across the state have been in dire need of personal protective equipment to ensure that our caregivers can follow best practices for infection, prevention, and containment," said April Diaz, vice president of clinical services for Marquis Companies. "We are grateful to all those involved in acquiring these much needed resources for Oregon's long-term care facilities."
"Long-term care workers are on the front lines of this crisis, but just like every other year, they are under supported," said Melissa Unger, executive director of SEIU 503. "Prioritizing PPE for these facilities will save lives and protect the front-line workers who are putting their health at risk to support Oregon's seniors and people with disabilities."
The National Guard began delivering the equipment to different facilities on Saturday.
“Thank you to our tireless National Guard members for making this rapid distribution of personal protective equipment possible," Brown said. "We continue to prioritize securing more PPE, including working with local manufacturers and the federal government to procure additional resources."
Long-term care facilities like the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington and the Oregon Veterans Home in Lebanon have been the epicenter for some of the West Coast's most serious outbreaks of COVID-19. The Washington care facility, in particular, has been linked to dozens of deaths and an untold amount of positive cases.