State launches personal protective equipment donation process

State's current supply won't meet surge demand

Last updated on March 30th, 2020 at 11:26 am

As Wisconsin braces for a shortage of personal protection equipment for its health care workers, the state has launched a new process for receiving supplies.

Businesses, educational institutions and organizations that want to donate or sell large quantities of PPE – including gowns, gloves and masks – are now being directed to this site to quantify their inventory. The State Emergency Operations Center will then work to distribute the equipment to communities in most need.

“It is absolutely imperative that our health care workers and first responders have the equipment they need to stay safe and healthy as they care for our communities,” Gov. Tony Evers said. “As we face a global shortage of PPE, and are competing with other states to acquire limited resources, I am calling on companies, schools, and other organizations that may have unused protective equipment sitting in their facilities to make those materials available to those who need it most.”

In addition to receiving donations, Evers said the state is prepared to pay a fair market value for large quantities of equipment.

The state is currently seeking:

  • Surgical gowns (S, L, XL, and XXL)
  • Face/surgical masks (adult, pediatric)
  • Gloves (Nitrile, Vinyl, or Butyl)
  • N-95 particulate respirators
  • Isolation gowns
  • Face shields
  • Tyvek coveralls
  • Thermometers
  • Foot coverings

Organizations or businesses with fewer than 50 of any of those items are being directed to donate them to local health organizations instead of going through the website.

“Wisconsin, like many other states, has a shortage of personal protective equipment due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “We are doing everything we can to get more protective equipment so our health care workers, first responders on the frontlines can protect themselves from COVID-19, and in turn, help keep all Wisconsinites safer.”

The state also continues to seek more supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile, and has requested assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency with purchasing supplies for first responders. So far the state has received 104,680 N95 respirators, 260,840 face/surgical masks, 48,168 face shields, 40,512 surgical gowns, 192 coveralls, and 70,375 pairs of gloves from the national stockpile.

Last week, Palm said the state’s current PPE supply won’t be enough to meet surge demand in its health care system, noting that states and communities are competing for the limited available supplies.

The area’s largest health care systems have all put out requests over the past week for PPE donations, including Advocate Aurora Health, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, ProHealth Care, and Ascension Wisconsin.

“As we prepare to care for our patients and our community during this public health crisis, supplies of personal protective equipment are critically low in Wisconsin and around the country,” said Mary Baker, ProHealth’s chief clinical operations officer. “Some of the products we need to protect our health care professionals also are used in other fields, and we would be grateful for donations at this time.”

Meanwhile, several colleges and organizations have come forward with donations.

Alverno College earlier this week donated 30 gowns, 450 masks, and 9 cases of gloves to Ascension Wisconsin.

Carroll University’s health science programs donated masks, gowns, goggles and face shields to ProHealth Care this week.

Carthage College’s nursing department donated hundreds of medical supplies and equipment to the Kenosha Visiting Nurses Association, Ascension All Saints Hospital in Racine, and Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers in Milwaukee.

West Allis-based Wisconsin Dental Association donated 20,000 surgical masks, 25,000 pairs of gloves and 1,700 surgical gowns for the state to distribute to health care organizations.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.