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What hospital wants public to do to prevent critical mask shortage
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An N95 medical respirator mask. (3M Safety/TNS)

Northeast Georgia Health System has concerns about its supply of face masks because of national shortages, but there’s no critical shortage yet in facing the coronavirus health crisis.

“We’re trying to take all steps to try to mitigate those (shortage) concerns,” spokesman Sean Couch said Saturday, March 21. 

“In the meantime, we need the community’s support, staying home and following isolation guidelines and only seeking care when necessary, so we don’t run through those supplies unnecessarily.”

Supplies are a concern nationally. 

On Wednesday, March 18, Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, recommended that doctors, dentists and hospitals postpone non-essential procedures in order to preserve supplies. Nursing homes risk running out of protective masks and gowns by next week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set out guidelines for mask usage during the COVID-19 crisis, including what to do when no masks are available.

One of the recommendations, as “a last resort,” is homemade masks, as their ability to protect health care workers is unknown.

“Caution should be exercised when considering this option,” the CDC says.

Several area residents have offered to sew face masks, including one Facebook group, Masks for Braselton Nurses.

“We are overjoyed by the community’s generous offers to sew masks to protect our patients and health care workers,” NGHS says on its COVID-19 website.

“Teams are currently working with a select group to produce a test run of masks. Once the quality/safety of this test run is complete, we hope to share more details about how you can help.”

The hospital says it will post updates on the website and at facebook.com/mynghs as soon as possible.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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