Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has distributed over 4,000 N95 masks to critical health facilities in Puerto Rico with the help of local and national partners.
“In Puerto Rico, there are a dozen hospitals and essential health care facilities that are in urgent need of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE),” says Sophie Delaunay, Project Coordinator for MSF in Puerto Rico. “Some hospitals have resorted to giving each emergency room staff member one mask per week because of shortages.”
Normally N95 masks are discarded after 8 hours of use. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, around the world many health care workers have needed to use and reuse masks for longer than normally recommended due to the global shortage in PPE. Masks should still be discarded if they are soiled, damaged or contaminated.
The N95 masks, which were donated by San Francisco-based non-profit organization HumankindNOW, were distributed by MSF staff members in Puerto Rico to 12 health care facilities, including hospitals, medical universities, emergency rooms and blood banks.
“We were especially concerned about non-governmental facilities and medical residents, who have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 response but have not been consistently included in PPE distributions from the government,” said Delaunay.
This initiative is part of MSF’s overall effort to support the people of Puerto Rico during the COVID-19 pandemic by directly engaging with the health care providers, non-profit organizations, enterprises and local health facilities that are visibly active on the ground working with affected communities. In particular, MSF is looking into how the pandemic will affect Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable groups, such as people experiencing homelessness, people living with HIV and the elderly, and communities affected by recent earthquakes.