State Sen. Walter F. Timilty, D-Milton, testified before the Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management recently urging a favorable report on his PPE data transparency bill.
The bill, S.253, An Act relative to PPE Data Transparency, was filed by Timilty in collaboration with the Massachusetts Nurses Association. While Massachusetts continues to lead in vaccination rates, Timilty stressed that it is critical to be forward looking, with lessons learned from the past year and a half during the 16-month Massachusetts State of Emergency.
“We must remain vigilant as COVID-19 variants emerge,” Timilty said. “Healthcare workers continue to practice medicine in close quarters caring for infected and, in some cases, unvaccinated individuals. We must be prepared for any future contagious outbreak.”
Nurses and other frontline staff reported that they had been reusing single-use N95 masks multiple times. This placed not only healthcare workers, but also, patients in serious risk.
“One year ago, frontline healthcare workers were telling us that the lack of PPE and a reduction in health and safety standards were putting them at risk,” said Katie Murphy, registered nurse and president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. “The facts have proven them correct. The lack of appropriate PPE exposed countless workers to COVID-19. We cannot let that happen again.
“So many times, nurses would request PPE and be told ‘no,’ or ‘you can reuse your mask,’ but when asked about their PPE supply, the facility would claim they had ‘enough.’ It certainly did not feel like ‘enough’ to frontline healthcare workers. That is why we are working with Sen. Timilty to pass this legislation which would provide transparency around PPE supply and efforts to obtain PPE. We must not get complacent. This is an issue of safety, transparency and fairness.”
While the Massachusetts State of Emergency has lifted, there is still a public health concern with possible variants.
“Our healthcare workers from across the Commonwealth weathered the first and second surge of COVID-19 without the proper personal protective equipment on hand,” Timilty said. “This shortage placed the lives of our healthcare workers at great risk. We must not place these professionals, or their patients, at risk like this ever again. In my estimation, the risk to our frontline workers could have been mitigated if there were sufficient personal protective equipment in place to ensure their safety when providing critical care to the patients of the Commonwealth.”
The bill, filed by Timilty, will mandate that the Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management require each healthcare facility to designate an inventory manager for all PPE. Moreover, the inventory manager will be required to provide documentation of all PPE on hand to meet the standards that were in place by the Center for Disease Control, as of Jan. 1, 2020. The documentation will include the process for and attempts made to meet the standards.
“This will be a continuous process, with reports being required every 14 days,” Timilty said. “Additionally, the OPEM must report this information publicly.”
The bill is intended to help identify PPE supply gaps and shortages at each facility.
“In short, in order to address this PPE issue among healthcare facilities, data and transparency is required,” Timilty said.
Read More:Timilty calls for PPE data transparency