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Area hospitals work to conserve protective masks, gowns

Posted at 6:32 PM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 19:34:09-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, hospitals in the Kansas City metro are working to conserve personal protective equipment, such as masks and gowns.

Children's Mercy locations and Saint Luke's Health System have pulled masks from their public entrances and now require people to ask for them.

Angela Myers, division director of Infectious Diseases at Children's Mercy, said the hospital has hygiene stations throughout the building, which normally have hand sanitizer, tissues and masks. Last week, the hospital placed signs on them pointing people to the registration desk.

"We want to make sure when patients and families come and they have respiratory symptoms that there is a mask available for them," Myers said.

Myers said a lot of masks are made in China where factories currently aren't making as many. Along with the push to conserve protective gear, the hospital is trying to limit the number of people going into patient's rooms who need to put the gear on. That includes physicians and volunteers.

Myers said the hospital is working to make sure the patients who normally have volunteer interaction still are receiving that same care.

"We are relying on our clinical care staff who need to be entering the room frequently to take care of the patient, including the nurses, including physicians," Myers said.

Myers said it is important to keep in mind that there are a lot of respiratory viruses circulating.

"I think we all need to take a deep breath and a pause and recognize that most patients with viral symptoms this time of year have a routine virus and not COVID-19," Myers said.

Myers also said that people who think they might have coronavirus symptoms do not need to rush to an emergency room or urgent care facility.

"It is reasonable to call your primary care physician," Myers said.