Management and Planning for PPE Shortages due to COVID-19

By Caralyn Davis, Staff Writer - April 08, 2020

As COVID-19 spreads and the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) increases, nursing homes across the country are experiencing or preparing for shortages of PPE. To help providers prioritize and make difficult but critical decisions about PPE use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a framework, COVID-19: Strategies to Optimize the Supply of PPE and Equipment, which CDC officials discussed at the March 25 Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) call, COVID-19 Update: Optimization Strategies for Healthcare PPE. Options for prioritizing and extending existing PPE supplies include the following:


Utilize engineering and administrative controls

Facilities should be maximizing their use of administrative and engineering controls to reduce exposures and help extend their PPE supplies, says David Kuhar, MD, the lead for the CDC’s COVID-19 Hospital Infection Prevention Team.

Engineering controls include “maximizing use of physical barriers (e.g., glass or plastic windows) that can potentially eliminate the need for PPE use in selected situations,” says Kuhar. Additional engineering controls include closing the curtains between residents and maintaining ventilation systems. Ventilation systems should provide air movement from a clean to contaminated flow direction.