Miramar—In the midst of a widespread shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), the state’s largest healthcare union has facilitated a donation of 20,000 KN95 masks that will be distributed to long-term care facilities across the state.
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, which represents 25,000 healthcare workers across Florida, arranged the donation from GreaterGood, a charitable organization that supports a wide variety of causes and programs that help refugees, veterans, students, wildlife and protect our planet.
“This donation comes at a critical time, when many nursing homes across the state are seeing the number of COVID-19 cases increase at alarming rates,” said Dale Ewart, executive vice president of 1199SEIU. “The KN95 masks will help protect thousands of dedicated caregivers who are putting themselves at risk every day to care for our elderly and vulnerable loved ones in nursing homes.
According to the state, more than 2,200 nursing home residents and 1,100 caregivers have tested positive for the life-threatening disease.
The KN95 masks offer as much protection as surgical masks or slightly better, but they are not a suitable replacement for N95 masks—the recommended method of protection according to the CDC. The KN95 masks will help supplement limited supplies of PPE that have forced some caregivers to use the same surgical mask repeatedly over several days or in some cases several weeks.
“Protecting healthcare workers has always been our priority,” said Ewart. “Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have called on federal and state officials to replenish dwindling supplies of PPE. But the response has been slow and inadequate, so we sought out other solutions. GreaterGood stepped in and truly lived up to its name with this generous donation that will benefit thousands of caregivers and their patients across the state.”
1199SEIU continues to search for additional donations. The first delivery of masks will go out today (May 1) at numerous Florida LTC facilities. Over the next week, they will be distributed to a total of 73 nursing homes.