CALGARY — Canadian health-care professionals are on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19 and some worry the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) could run short.
But a Calgary group has now raised more than $41,000 to order masks for health-care workers and people who care for at-risk populations.
On Thursday, the group ordered 30,000 N95 and surgical masks with money raised through GoFundMe. The group’s website has more information on what needs to be donated and how people can volunteer to help.
“Even in our own community, health-care workers are reporting that supplies are already being rationed,” says Dr. Breanne Everett, who is one of the organizers of the effort.
“Masks are not being provided to front line workers where they are needed and that’s a really bad situation.”
The supply of PPE varies in hospitals and care facilities and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the province is “well prepared to deal with” the ongoing pandemic. But he acknowledges that there is an extremely high demand for PPE in Canada and around the world.
“What we’re seeing is a great demand for other sectors, including police, correction officers, folks working in homeless shelters and elsewhere,” Kenney said.
Alberta’s deputy minister of municipal affairs, Paul Wynnyk, is now leading the province’s effort to procure and distribute masks, gowns, gloves and face shields to health-care workers.
Everett says she doesn’t want doctors and nurses in Calgary, which has by far the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province, worry about whether there’s enough PPE to go around.
“If they don’t have masks and gloves and the appropriate equipment to protect themselves, there’s serious risks of transmission of disease.”
The group is also calling on other industries to help donate extra PPE to health-care professionals that need it.
“A couple of areas to think about is oil and gas. They wear a lot of personal protection equipment out in the field. There’s construction, from painting, drywalling to basic carpentry. There’s veterinarians and dentists,” said Melissa Lamothe, another organizer with the group.
“We need to acquire as much personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves, as possible,” she said.
According to Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer, masks aren’t necessary for people who are not sick, but they are essential for people who are in close contact with people who have COVID-19.
“If you wear a face mask alone while you’re well and just out and about, it doesn’t seem to add a great deal of protection over and above regular hand washing and avoiding touching your face,” Hinshaw said during Wednesday’s provincial update.
“In health care or workplace settings appropriate personal protective equipment — not the mask alone, but the entire suite of precautions — is necessary.”
The group in Calgary says the first shipment of masks is expected to arrive within two weeks. They’re collecting donations of masks and equipment from Monday to Friday between noon and 3 p.m. at 117-1240 20th Ave. S.E.