UNDATED (AP) — Pennsylvania emergency management officials will be permitted to commandeer N95 face masks, ventilators and other crucial medical equipment for use in the fight against COVID-19 under an order signed Wednesday by Gov. Tom Wolf.
The order requires private and public health care facilities, manufacturers and other companies to tabulate their supplies of personal protective gear, drugs and other medical equipment, and provide an inventory to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. PEMA will make the supplies available to areas of the state hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.
Several other states, including New York and Minnesota, have issued similar orders.
Harrisburg, PA – Among myriad actions to support Pennsylvania’s health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Tom Wolf signed an order on Wednesday to provide critical aid to hospitals with targeted PPE and supplies distribution.
“Combatting a pandemic means we all have to work together and that means we need to make the best use of our medical assets to ensure the places that need them most have them,” Gov. Wolf said. “Today, I am signing an order that will allow us to transfer supplies and information between medical facilities to both high-population, high-impact areas and lower population areas that might not have as many existing medical resources.
“This will also prevent sick Pennsylvanians from having to choose which hospital to go to for fear that some have less access to equipment than others and it will help us make use of every ventilator, every piece of PPE, and every medical worker.”
The order will ensure the efficient allocation and effective use of critical medical resources, such as N95 face masks, ventilators, respirators, face shields, safety goggles, disinfectants and other sanitizing solutions by hospitals in the state.
The order reads, that “despite the voluntary efforts of health care providers and despite the exhaustive work of commonwealth agencies to procure PPE and other medical resources from private industry to support Pennsylvania’s health care workers, facilities and emergency responders, a critical shortage of PPE, pharmaceuticals and other medical resources remains.”
The governor consulted with Sec. of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, and Randy Padfield, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), in developing the order to ensure all commonwealth resources are harnessed to meet the imminent surge of COVID-19 cases and to prevent overwhelming the health care system.
The order mandates that private, public and quasi-public health care providers and facilities, as well as manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of PPE, pharmaceuticals and other medical resources located within the commonwealth, submit current inventory quantities of PPE, pharmaceuticals and other medical resources to PEMA within five days of today’s order. Health care providers and facilities are further ordered to provide written reports detailing facility health care needs and other pertinent information in the form, manner and frequency directed by PEMA.
PEMA will make arrangements with other commonwealth agencies to reimburse facilities for PPE and other supplies and equipment, then arrange for supplies to be allocated to where they are needed most.
“I commend Pennsylvania’s medical facilities for their efforts so far in helping to shift resources toward the fight against COVID-19,” Gov. Wolf said. “Many are already working together to shift resources among facilities, both public and private, and many of our medical facilities have shifted resources internally.”
Also, the Department of Health launched a new hospital preparedness dashboard that provides county-level information, including the number of available beds and ventilators in use at facilities across the state. The dashboard also provides an overview of the capacity of the state’s entire health care system.
“We are working to create more ways to get as much data as possible to the community,” Dr. Levine said.
The dashboard can be found in the COVID-19 section of health.pa.gov.