It’s no secret that hospitals were the first places to feel the impact from COVID-19. It wasn’t just from the inundation of potential COVID-19 cases on top of the regular cases of sick and hurt patients. It was the people who entered hospitals and treated them like a burst piñata at a backyard party; grabbing hand sanitizers, face masks and any other items they felt could protect them during the pandemic. Some did it for personal use, others did it to sell as “hospital grade” products online. Whatever the reason our healthcare system and, by extension, our population are now in trouble.
There is talk around the world of nurses and doctors reusing their disposable masks — which would normally be replaced every 40 minutes. Healthcare workers around the world are in desperate need of disposable respirators.
In this post we’re looking at two ways to help healthcare workers during COVID-19.
Option 1: For the panic buyers
Donate unopened N95 masks to your local hospital.
It’s that simple.
An emergency medicine resident in Hamilton, Ontario is encouraging anyone around the country who has disposable N95 respirators to donate them to their local hospital.
Not only will donating masks have a bigger impact on fighting this virus than if a member of the public wore them, it will probably keep them safer in the long run and here’s a few reasons why:
- Without getting fit tested for a mask, there’s no guarantee it’s the right size.
- You’re probably not performing regular seal checks, which means it’s not protecting you from COVID-19 particles.
- If you aren’t clean shaven the N95 respirator will not properly seal to your face.
- Wearing a mask gives people a false sense of security. You’re more likely to touch unclean surfaces, socialize in crowded spaces and touch your face.
It doesn’t matter whether you panic bought N95s or you took them from a hospital. If the package is unopened, they could save someone’s life.
Option 2: For carpenters, woodworkers and sanders
Spoiler alert: The option still ends with us encouraging you to donate unopened masks.
However, we also realize that in your work or hobby, respirators are still needed.
So here’s what we suggest: Upgrade your disposable respirators to an air-purifying respirator.
Air-purifying respirators (APR) offer better protection than disposable N95 respirators for filtering out dust and airborne contaminants and particulates. APRs use filters and cartridges to promote ease of breathing and significantly reduce moisture and heat compared to disposable masks.
There is a bit of cleaning required with APRs but most models make this easy to do.
How to donate your unopened N95 masks to a hospital:
If you do have some boxes to donate (or you’re unsure if your unopened face mask would be useful), call your local hospital using the non-emergency line. They will be able to determine the best, and safest, course of action to receive your donation.
Even if they are expired, those masks could be used for training or fit testing purposes depending on their condition.
Three easy reasons why you should donate:
- Our healthcare workers need them desperately.
- If you have not been fit tested or trained on how to properly wear an N95 mask, it will not protect you from viruses.
- Helping out those in need is the Canadian thing to do.