Nothing Can Mask the Need for Protection for Health Care Workers
During the Revolutionary War it was common for fledging Americans to melt lead and pewter household implements and recast the liquid into ammunition. It was a simple call: You didn’t send soldiers into battle unarmed.
Today’s musket balls are the masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) that shield our incredibly courageous health care workers on the frontline of COVID-19. This PPE is in short supply both nationally and worldwide.
America remains committed to putting the right tools into the hands of those who are doing so much to protect us. And the 100 Million Mask Challenge is a big step in that direction.
Originally launched by Providence, in Washington State, the 100 Million Mask Challenge now calls on manufacturers, the business community and individuals nationwide to coordinate their efforts to rapidly produce PPE on the large scale needed by our nation’s caregivers. Since scaling this initiative nationwide, tens of thousands of visitors have checked out AHA’s expanded website, many of which have been manufacturers downloading the specs to make masks, face shields and gowns, or hospitals seeking the latest guidance on hand sanitizers and best practices from around the field for PPE decontamination.
As AHA continues to grow the Challenge, we are creating new relationships with supply chain leaders. For example, through collaboration with the Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM), AHA is vetting non-traditional PPE suppliers and connecting them with hospital supply chain leaders.
Last week, AHA also announced a collaboration with Point A, Georgia Pacific’s center to drive supply chain innovation. Together, we are inviting innovators and engineers to lend their expertise to manufacturers that need their guidance to produce much needed PPE.
When Americans unite behind a goal, we are an unstoppable force that has landed humans on the moon and eradicated fearsome diseases like polio. COVID-19 will be overcome as well, but we are not there yet.
The 100 Million Mask Challenge is asking every person and organization who can help supply our caregivers with the protection they deserve to step up and raise your hand. We can all do something, and the Challenge can help direct you to what that is.
Priya Bathija is vice president, Strategic Initiatives at the American Hospital Association. In this role, she leads the AHA’s efforts to guide hospitals and health systems as they promote affordability by improving quality and decreasing cost. In addition, she leads the organization’s work on maternal and child health, social determinants, and its exploration of innovative delivery and payment system reforms that will allow vulnerable urban and rural communities to ensure access to essential health care services.