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Donations help prepare hospital for any future surge of patients

NATCHEZ — Merit Health Natchez has been receiving donations of personal protective equipment, such as hospital gowns, masks and gloves to prepare for a likely surge in the number of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Merit Health Natchez CEO Lance Boyd said Tuesday after an Emergency Operations Center conference call that the hospital has all of the PPE needed to protect hospital staff but is receiving more equipment, including handmade material from local seamstresses, from wherever possible to prepare for an uptick in patients.

“Our concerns are the same as every other hospital in the country,” Boyd said. “We have everything that we need to protect our staff at this time, but we are taking donations and all the time looking for supplies because we anticipate a surge coming in the next few weeks. … Surgical gowns would be the No. 1 most needed item, but also surgical masks and gloves. Those are the big three needs that everybody is scrambling for. … We’ve had a great response from the community, from local businesses and from individuals in helping us get the supplies we need.”

EOC officials are not allowing the public or the media to attend meetings. However, Neifa Hardy, Adams County emergency management liaison officer, informed the press that Boyd and other emergency officials discussed possible ways that local seamstresses could help fill the hospital’s needs in case they are unable to order more equipment in a PPE shortage.

“Mainly their needs are gowns right now, and the conversation moved to how we can help and pitch in,” Hardy said, adding Boyd told EOC members that the hospital workers could use and discard nearly 100 hospital gowns per COVID-19 patient treated.

“They’re looking for gowns from anywhere that they can get them,” she said.

Boyd told EOC members that medical-grade gowns need to be made from a polypropylene material that is not water permeable and completely covers the wearer’s arms, Hardy said.

Merit Health officials released a statement Tuesday that says the hospital has been receiving some donations of both cloth and FDA approved PPE equipment and that the donors wished to remain anonymous.

Cloth materials are used to cover hospital staff who are not involved with direct patient care so that surgical masks and gloves could be conserved for staff who have direct contact with patients, Boyd said.

“Our hospital has been accepting donations of FDA approved personal protective equipment and supplies, including surgical masks, N95 masks (medical and construction-grade), gloves, gowns, face shields and eye protection, and we have been overwhelmed by the response of local businesses and individuals. We have sufficient supplies to care for the patients in our care today,” the news release states.

“As we prepare to respond to more cases of COVID1-9 in our community, we have also been accepting cloth masks and gowns and we are grateful to the group of local seamstresses who are creating these. They wish to remain behind the scenes and anonymous, and we truly appreciate their efforts, as well as all of the local support. If anyone wishes to donate supplies, such as those mentioned above, please email our Director of Materials Management, lynda.hall@merithealthnatchez.com.”