SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)- As COVID-19 infections began rapidly increasing in March, Baystate Health and other hospital systems had to take it upon themselves to obtain personal protective equipment.
It led Baystate Health’s Dr. Andrew Artenstein on a far trip to get some more.
“It took us on a trip down a significant distance from here to the mid-atlantic down to a warehouse,” said Dr. Andrew Artenstein, Baystate Health’s Chief Physician Executive and Chief Academic Officer. “At the warehouse dock, we actually made a deal for the what was over 1 million n95’s and 3-ply face masks.”
PPE has been crucial for hospitals to protect their staff and patients from this contagious virus .But doctor Andrew Artenstein couldn’t believe how hard it was to secure this equipment from China.
Artenstein told 22News FBI agents held up the PPE transfer and questioned whether it was going in the right hands. It took most of the day to convince them and they needed the help from Congressman Neal’s office to do it.
“I never wavered for a second that in any concern we were in any danger my biggest concern was PPE was in danger, and we were in danger of not succeeding returning empty handed,” said Dr, Artenstein.
At this time, Artenstein said they have a sufficient amount of PPE, but the future is uncertain with hospitalizations on the rise again.”
“We have what we need for now but we are trying to prepare for an extended crisis that could last anywhere from 3-6 months,” said Artenstein. “And if we can deploy an effective vaccine in the next few months that will obviously help.”
Artenstein said there is a plan already set up to distribute vaccines to Baystate Health workers when it does become available. He said if the FDA approves an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine, distribution could begin in the next few weeks.