Protecting front-line health care workers

By The Health News Team | April 16, 2020
Protecting front-line health care workers

Deb Duncan is an emergency room nurse at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.

Deb Duncan, RN, has been exposed to every germ imaginable, working as a nurse in the emergency department at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. “I don’t ever get sick,” she says, having built up immunity treating patients with a variety of viral illness and communicable disease.

However, like many front-line health care workers, COVID-19 has Duncan worried. “It’s scary, because if I catch it, I don’t have any immunity,” she says. Until researchers can identify, test and produce a vaccine to protect against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, health care workers continue to be at high risk for contracting the disease.

“You can’t watch the news lately without seeing headlines about health care workers who have died from COVID-19 because they lacked proper protective equipment while caring for these patients,” Duncan says. “One life lost is too many; we have to be prepared by securing additional protective equipment before the next wave of patients hits.”

The need to protect people like Duncan during an unprecedented global pandemic led the Foundations of Sharp to create the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which doubles the power of each gift with a generous matching grant from the Conrad Prebys Foundation.

Preparing for the coming surge of COVID-19 cases
The fund will quickly provide departments at Sharp with the funds they need to secure personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to meet the growing number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego. While Sharp has enough equipment to protect patients and employees, state and county public officials are still predicting a surge of COVID-19 cases to hit San Diego this year. The fund will help Sharp hospitals and clinics purchase masks, face shields, goggles and other protective equipment in to meet this expected demand.

“Our Emergency Department is seeing increasing numbers of patients with COVID-19 daily, many of them so ill they require intubation soon after arrival,” Duncan says. “Each of the three-to-four-person medical team requires full PPE for every patient — PAPRs (powered air-purifying respirators) or N95 masks, face shields, gloves and gowns. The Sharp COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund will be instrumental in securing the personal protective equipment that is lifesaving for the caregivers who work tirelessly to save the lives of patients.”

Duncan and her colleagues at Sharp Chula Vista take pride in the service they provide to their community, a relationship that dates back more than 40 years. They are grateful for the ways in which the community has given back in this time, donating food and supplies and sending messages of thanks and hope to caregivers. It helps remind them why they do what they do.

“We have to stay safe so that we are here for them when they need us,” Duncan says.

How you can help
Physicians, nurses and staff at Sharp need you. Please consider donating to the Sharp COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. Your contribution can help provide resources to support the direct care of COVID-19 patients.

This story was updated on June 25, 2020.

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