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Lack of Personal Protective Equipment raises alarms with NC nurses

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — North Carolina’s nurses are signaling they may soon run out of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment, known as PPE.

The North Carolina Nurses Association says an informal poll found that, of the 354 nurses who responded, around 60% said their facility already has a PPE shortage. Only 20% said their facility has the supplies it needs, and 21% said they were unsure.

Dennis Taylor, an acute-care nurse practitioner in the Winston-Salem area, said a sudden surge in COVID-19 patients could upend the healthcare system.

“There is just really widespread concern among nurses that we don’t have all of the appropriate equipment that we may need to be able to do the screening and the treatment of patients,” Taylor said.

As of Sunday, Apr. 12, the state is reporting more than 4,500 people have tested positive for the new coronavirus, and more than 300 are currently hospitalized; 91 people have died.

Taylor said the best way communities can help nurses is to obey and support the “stay-at-home” and social distancing orders. He added COVID-19 is affecting front-line workers’ mental health.

One study published in March found healthcare workers in China experienced high levels of anxiety, depression and insomnia.

“Those are all things I think that keep us up at night, is that we know that we want to be there to help, and we don’t want to the resources to be overwhelmed,” Taylor said.

The North Carolina Nurses Association has stated it supports bolstering the nurse workforce by implementing policies to encourage volunteering. The state Board of Nursing also has announced it will temporarily renew the licenses of retired nurses.

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