HONOLULU (KHON2) — Should healthcare professionals wear personal protective equipment, or PPE, in the hospital at all times? Who makes those rules?
According to Healthcare Association of Hawaii President Hilton Raethel, hospitals do take some things into consideration but ultimately it’s up to them to decide their PPE policies.
“Each hospital sets its own policies. Everyone is looking a the CDC guidelines and the Department of Health and those policies have been evolving,” Raethel explained.
Dr. Alan Wu of Doctors of Waikiki said they require everyone who works in their facility to wear some type of protective equipment..
“From the front desk all the way to the in-patient part. I think there should be protective gear that’s worn all the time.”
Wu said even their receptionist wears a mask and gloves just in case because she handles people’s IDs.
According to Raethel, hospitals set guidelines on how much protection is needed based on the potential for exposure.
“An ICU would have a higher level of protection than a med-surge unit would have then, for example, a patient screening area.”
Wu explained the protocol they follow at Doctors of Waikiki.
“We do make sure there is an infectious control guideline that all of our staff follows. We do have an area that is used to put on your gown, put on your protective gear, put on your booties, put on your glove, put on your mask, before you interact with a suspected positive patient. And those things are to be worn upon entry so you actually have those PPE on when you enter the exam room to exam the patient,” Wu said.
Wu said the rules aren’t as strict when they are dealing with patients that are not presumed to have coronavirus.
“We don’t use the face shield for every patient just cause we’ll scare patients who came in for a fractured foot or broken hand. We don’t have to use this. But (doctors and nurses) do wear their mask all the time whether they’re seeing anybody so at least there’s some type of protection.”
Raethel said the shortage of PPE complicates things and it even forced the CDC to change some of their initial guidelines.
“Just recently (the CDC) said it’s okay to use the KN95 mask as well as the N95 masks. So that is an example of how the KN95 mask would not have been used previously but because of the shortage the CDC is now saying it’s appropriate to use a KN95 mask in a more high risk setting.”
Raethel said many hospitals are even allowing workers to wear home-made masks when they are not dealing directly with patients, something he said would have been unheard of two months ago.
“Because of the shortage and the CDC guidelines, which are to protect as many people as possible, those types of things are happening,” Raethel explained.