Birthing centers struggle to find protective supplies during pandemic

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) – At Beautiful Beginning Birth, it’s been busy the last few months.

Emma Morrison said they’ve seen a surge in women turning to home births during this pandemic. 

As Morrison treats more women she said it’s been tough to find N95 masks, face shields and gloves. 

“When I can find sterile gloves, the cost is five times as much as it was,” said Morrison “N95 respirators are recommended while delivering babies, but we do not have access to them.”

She now spends hours every day searching online for personal protective equipment (PPE). Morrison said even trying to figure out where to apply for help has been tough because the information isn’t readily available for birthing centers. 

“If a birthing center is having difficulty getting PPE through their usual channels, they can make a request for assistance either by working with their county emergency management coordinator or the hospital regional advisory council for their area,” explained Chris Van Deusen, with the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“We are licensed midwives. We are licensed in the state of Texas,” said Morrison.

“It is scary to walk into work each day, faced with clients that don’t want to wear masks, not having adequate PPE, and feeling as though I’m risking my health to provide care to expectant women,” she said. 

The state created the Supply Chain Strike Force to help with the problem. The group works with the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to get the state PPE for medical professionals and hospitals. 

According to the agency, more than 129 million pieces of PPE has been bought and distributed across the state including masks and gloves. 

“Between March 1st and June 17th, our federal partners delivered over 1.3 billion pieces of PPE into Texas, including over 1.2 billion gloves and 49.3 million masks,” said Seth Christensen with TDEM. 

Christensen explained that more than 76.7 million pieces of PPE is on-hand now and additional medical supplies are on the way. They will be distributed to frontline workers as needed and requested through the State of Texas Assistance Request (STAR) process.

“TDEM continues to purchase PPE to ensure medical professionals, hospitals, and first responders have the resources they need to keep themselves safe while providing care to patients across our state,” said Christensen. 

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