A survey last week of nursing homes and assisted living facilities found both personal protective equipment and disinfecting supplies are scarce at many.
The survey was conducted March 6 through 15 by Premier Inc., the top group purchasing organization for U.S. hospitals and nursing homes.
About two-thirds of the facilities answering the survey reported they have little to no ability to purchase face masks, face shields, sterile gowns, hand sanitizer, wipes or disinfectant sprays. Nearly one-third said they had no N95 masks, which provide higher protection than surgical masks.
Because many of the facilities don't normally buy N95 masks and certain other protective gear, they can’t get orders filled by distributors. Those middlemen, aiming to prevent hoarding, are limiting how much they ship to customers based on their historic purchasing volume, a system called “allocation” often used during drug shortages.
Meanwhile, nursing homes are using far more disinfecting supplies because they are cleaning common areas, doorknobs and other “high-touch” areas as frequently as four times a day.