Protecting our healthcare workers: Mercy Hospital procuring additional PPE for potential outbreak

Drew Butler
Dr. Johhny Thomas, director of anesthesia services at Mercy Ardmore, said these 3M full face respirators are capable of filtering at N95 levels. The Mercy anesthesia team is switching over to these masks to conserve PPE.

Mercy Hospital Ardmore is making sure they have everything they need to fight a potential COVID-19 outbreak in the area. One of the most critical pieces of equipment, the N95 mask, is in short supply across the world. While the hospital currently has several of the masks stocked, they want to ensure they have as many as possible in case the worst hits Southern Oklahoma.

To help cut back on their usage, Dr. Johnny Thomas, director of anesthesia services, started looking into other potential options for his team. He found one in the form of the 3M full face respirator.

“We started doing research and found out that 3M full face respirators are capable of filtering at N95 levels or better,” Thomas said. “So my anesthesia team looked into them, and we found out that paint stores carry them.”

Thomas bought a few of the masks but wanted to get as many as possible. To expedite the search process he made a post on social media asking who might have some in stock. He said the public response has been fantastic. Several citizens and businesses reached out with suggestions about where to look.

“I got a message from Michael Bowers of Bowers Custom Painting saying that he had an order at our local Sherwin Williams that he could direct to us,” Thomas said. “So we went to Sherwin Williams, and we bought all the masks they had in stock.”

He then contacted the Gainesville Sherwin Williams who also had a few of the masks in stock. They were specifically saving them for the medical community. The store has also put in an order for more masks and will give the hospital the first opportunity to purchase any that come in.

“At the end of the day, we were able to outfit my entire anesthesia group with full face respirators and extra filters,” Thomas said. “So we will not need to utilize PPE from the hospital, and we’re giving up what we would have used to help other staff.”

Thomas said Mercy is currently sourcing and procuring as much PPE as possible, but they are also accepting donated PPE to help with the process. He also noted that the hospital follows the PPE usage guidelines of experts such as the CDC and World Health Organization.

“We are preparing day and night for the onslaught of what may come,” Thomas said. “We’ve done well in our facility disaster planning and expansion of critical care, but we want to have as much material as possible on hand. We could always use more.”

Thomas said anyone with a new 3M full face respirator they would like to donate to the hospital can contact Puddy Agans or Marcus High at Mercy Hospital Ardmore.