PPE Problems, Shortages Persist As Health Care Workers Struggle

The FDA rebuked an Ohio company that makes mask decontamination devices, saying it skirted safety rules. In California, more than 3,000 nurses and health care workers in the Bay Area are on strike to protest unsafe working conditions. And a 28-year-old physician in Texas dies of COVID; her family says she had to wear the same N95 mask “for weeks and weeks, if not months and months.”

FDA Formally Warns Mask Decontamination Device Maker Touted By Trump

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday formally chastised a mask decontamination device company once touted by President Trump for skirting rules about safety monitoring. It said the Ohio-based Battelle Memorial Institute, which makes a system to decontaminate the protective masks worn by health care workers, did not have adequate procedures in place for identifying adverse events, like allergic reactions. (Florko, 10/7)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Months Into Pandemic, PPE Shortage Persists

Back in March as the pandemic took hold, Atlanta pediatrician Joy Maxey’s two-year supply of high-filtering N95s masks was gone in weeks. Other critically needed equipment was quickly depleted, too. She couldn’t just pick up the phone and order more; her regular vendors didn’t have it. She had to spend hours daily trying to find the precious gear. Now, seven months after Georgia confirmed its first coronavirus cases, Dr. Maxey is still spending triple the time she used to getting her office enough protective equipment. (Oliviero and Hart, 10/7)

In news about health care workers —

San Francisco Chronicle:
Thousands Of East Bay Health Care Workers Launch Strike, Protesting Patient Safety, Poor Conditions 

More than 3,000 nurses and health care workers began a weeklong strike at East Bay hospitals Wednesday to protest what they characterized as unsafe working conditions, mismanagement and persistent short staffing. The strike is targeting the Alameda Health System, a government agency that operates the county’s public hospitals, which largely serve minority communities. (Mishanec, 10/7)

KHN and The Guardian:
Young Doctor Succumbs To COVID, One Of The South’s Many Health Workers Lost 

It took Carrie Wanamaker several days to connect the face she saw on GoFundMe with the young woman she had met a few years before. According to the fundraising site, Adeline Fagan, a 28-year-old resident OB-GYN, had developed a debilitating case of COVID-19 and was on a ventilator in Houston. Scrolling through her phone, Wanamaker found the picture she took of Fagan in 2018, showing the fourth-year medical student at her side in the delivery room, beaming at Wanamaker’s pink, crying, minutes-old daughter. Fagan supported Wanamaker’s leg through the birth because the epidural paralyzed her below the waist, and they joked and laughed since Wanamaker felt loopy from the anesthesia. (Gee, 10/8)

Modern Healthcare:
Surgeon General Calls On Docs To Prioritize Controlling Patients’ Hypertension

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams is calling on healthcare providers to improve how they help patients manage their blood pressure, as uncontrolled hypertension becomes more prevalent in American adults. The nation’s top doctor called for a coordinated, multi-faceted response from public health officials, clinical medicine, insurers, community organizations and others to better control hypertension. The effort is a “national public health priority,” he said. (Johnson, 10/7)

Boston Globe:
Hanover Paramedics Make House Calls To Test Resident For Coronavirus 

Paramedics from the Hanover Fire Department are making house calls to local residents who want to be tested for COVID-19, with the nose swabs going to South Shore Health in Weymouth for analysis as part of a cooperative program between the hospital system and the town. Since April, more than 100 Hanover residents have been tested for free in their homes, according to South Shore Health spokeswoman Susan Griffin. (Seltz, 10/7)

And a closer look at HIPAA —

KHN and Politifact:
Does The Federal Health Information Privacy Law Protect President Trump? 

Within one day, President Donald Trump announced his COVID diagnosis and was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment. The flurry of events was stunning, confusing and triggered many questions. What was his prognosis? When was he last tested for COVID-19? What is his viral load? The answers were elusive. Picture the scene on Oct. 5. White House physician Dr. Sean Conley, flanked by other members of Trump’s medical team, met with reporters outside the hospital. But Conley would not disclose the results of the president’s lung scans and other vital information, invoking a federal law he said allows him to selectively provide intel on the president’s health. (Appleby and Knight, 10/7)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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