BANGOR – Doctors, nurses and emergency responders are among the people on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of those people here in Maine are expressing concern over the lack of proper personal protective equipment and the effect that’s having on healthcare workers.
As of Monday, more than 40 of the confirmed COVID-19 cases are the men and women working on the front lines of this pandemic.
“If we can’t protect and provide for our healthcare workers then there’s not going to be anybody to care for the sick,” said Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center nurse Jessie Lambert. “We’re also part of the community. If we’re getting sick then the community can’t stay healthy either.”
Lambert is among the nurses at Northern Light EMMC concerned over certain changes in guidelines at the hospital.
“Except for during and after certain procedures, we are told that we cannot wear the N-95 [masks],” she said. “We’re supposed to wear a surgical mask and a face shield and that’s not acceptable to us.”
According to a Northern Light Health official, at first, health care workers at Northern Light facilities were required to wear N-95 masks, eye protection, gowns and gloves at all times when dealing with coronavirus patients. But those personal protective equipment guidelines have changed.
“As we learn more about the virus we realize more that its transmission is more due to droplet precautions like influenza than it is respiratory precautions like tuberculosis” said Northern Light Health COVID-19 Incident Commander Dr. James Jarvis.
He said that information changed the type of PPE needed for workers. That doesn’t sit well with nurses like Lambert.
“People just want to be protected to the highest standard of protection,” Lambert said. “I think we’re ready to do our job. We want to do our job. We want to care for people that are sick. And we want to continue giving people care that aren’t suffering from this virus. We just want to make sure we’re doing it in the safest way possible.”
We also spoke with Vice President of HR at Northern Light EMMC Ali Worster, who said the hospital is accepting PPE donations at this time.