Brendan Williams, president of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, wears an isolation gown July 1, 2020, with no sleeve openings for hands, which was received in a shipment from the federal government, outside Webster at Rye senior care center in Rye, New Hampshire. The problematic gowns, child-sized examination gloves and surgical masks with ear loops that break when stretched make up the bulk of the personal protective equipment recently sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to New Hampshire nursing homes, according to Williams. The facility is not using the items they received from FEMA.
(The Center Square) – The federal government has been sending defective personal protective equipment to New Hampshire nursing homes, health officials say.
“It’s not an isolation gown; it’s a garbage bag,” Brendan Williams, president of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, told the Concord Monitor. “It’s basically representative that they’re treating health care workers like garbage.”
Williams called the gown a garbage bag because it didn’t even have holes for arms to go through. Williams said other examples include receiving brittle masks that broke easily or receiving a shipment of thousands of extra small gloves that were useless for many adult staff.
In April, President Donald Trump said the Federal Emergency Management Agency would begin sending out personal protective equipment to nursing homes across the nation. The shipments arrived in May and June, but some health care workers across the state still feel a shortage of equipment since many of the shipments had defective equipment.
A spokesperson for FEMA said that they’ve received complaints from only 1 percent of nursing homes and their equipment meets industry requirements.
“The fact that these nursing homes typically use other types of FDA or AAMI-certified PPE does not warrant this type of scrutiny from the news media,” Alexandria Bruner, spokesperson for FEMA, told the Concord Monitor.
But Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan and three of her colleagues sent a letter to FEMA asking the organization about how they control their equipment quality.
The backdrop for the scrutiny is 80 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in New Hampshire occurred in nursing homes.
“These facilities are caring for the most vulnerable to COVID-19, and it’s unacceptable that the federal government hasn’t done a better job of protecting these residents,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., recently said in a statement.