The Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) purchased 150,000 badly needed N95 masks and began shipping masks to member hospitals Dec. 22, sending shipments to 42 hospitals and health systems. Funding came from a $3.69 million grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).
The association plans to send masks to hospitals and health systems with the greatest need across the state. WSHA surveyed member hospitals to determine the size of the shipments and order of the recipients. Hospital leaders agreed that hospitals most in need should receive the first shipments. Many hospital leaders declined their share so additional masks could go to other hospitals more in need of PPE to ensure their ability to care for patients.
WSHA used the first $700,000 of the grant to purchase 100,000 regular-size and 50,000 small-size 3M N95 masks. These are the highest desired masks among health care workers. The small-size masks are in particularly short supply. Tacoma-based MultiCare Health System is assisting the association by storing the masks and managing their shipping.
The operation represents the latest effort by the health care community to work collaboratively to ensure facilities most in need of PPE receive it first.
“This is a moment of hope and inspiration in this pandemic,” WSHA President and CEO Cassie Sauer said. “Vaccine and PPE are the keys to keeping our health care workers safe. Our health care system and frontline workers have been pushed to the limit, but the collaboration on N95s shows the unfailing commitment of our health care community to work together and take care of one other. We’re all in this together, and we need to work together to care for our friends, family and neighbors.”
WSHA will purchase its next batch of masks with grant funds later this week. “We are so grateful to ASPR for this essential funding,” concluded Sauer.