In the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, hospitals are increasingly finding themselves with a massive short of personal protection equipment (or PPE) to provide their front-line healthcare workers.
In many areas, workers are improvising, reusing masks, covering their rationed PPE with garbage bags and homemade mask covers, and in some cases, treating patients without the proper protection, putting themselves at great personal risk.
Because of this, some healthcare workers are taking matters into their own hands, as is the case with nurse Olga Matievskaya at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in New Jersey.
Matievskaya started a fundraiser on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to acquire PPE for herself and other ICU nurses (those who deal with the sickest patients) at the hospital.
The donations started pouring in from good Samaritans who were anxious to help in any they could.
Over $12,000 was raised, and Matievskaya was able to purchase thousands of pieces of PPE to her colleagues, who were very grateful. However, her employer responded by placing Matievskaya on suspension over the weekend for distributing unauthorized medical supplies. Olga posted several updates on the GoFundMe page:
According to a ProPublica report:
The hospital told ProPublica in a statement that Matievskaya’s suspension ended Monday. “No employee is allowed to distribute unauthorized medical supplies within the hospital,” the statement said. “The nurse in question was temporarily suspended for inappropriately distributing unauthorized medical supplies, against this policy.”
As of today, over 340,000 infections have been reported in the United States along with over 11,000 deaths being attributed to the virus. Worldwide there are over 1.3 million cases and over 75,000 deaths reported. New York State, and specifically New York City and the surrounding areas remain the hardest hit areas in the United States.