HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Legislation is in the works to create a stockpile of personal protective equipment, so Pennsylvania is prepared if it’s faced with another health crisis.
It comes after some health care workers were forced to wear PPE for longer than recommended, and the state received less equipment from the federal government than expected.
“I got grocery delivered myself yesterday,” said state Senator Maria Collett.
The coronavirus pandemic has quickly proved those on the front line work in a variety of industries.
Collett says she’s especially appreciative of their sacrifices.
“My family isn’t going out right now in the community,” said Collett. “I have an 85-year-old father who lives with me, my husband who is immunocompromised with chronic cancer.”
That’s why Collett wants to ensure Pennsylvanians are protected in the future.
She’s proposing legislation that would add a $10 million budget for life-saving equipment and would put $5.3 million toward a technical assistance program.
The goal is that local businesses and manufacturers collaborate to secure a 90-day PPE stockpile for the commonwealth.
“It would provide $700,000 to ambulance and emergency service organizations for advanced training on pandemic responses, including the use of ventilators,” said Collett.
“It probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to repeat what we just went through,” said Richard Bagley, a senior vice president, and the chief supply chain officer at Penn State Health.
Bagley agrees plans need to be updated. He says while most health systems had safety stockpiles, the rapid need for sometimes quadruple the supplies wasn’t possible to meet.
Bagley tells us local hospitals got by relying on nontraditional markets and partnering with local businesses.
“It’s taking something that was designed in the early 2000s or the 90s for a type of emergent situation, and applying it to a pandemic of 2020,” said Bagley.
Bagley says it’s vital those who work in the supply chain are part of the conversation.
“Is there a better partnership between private industry and health care organizations that’s supported by the state?” Bagley said.
While Collett admits her proposal is a significant investment, she says it could pay off down the line.
“Because we have the proper equipment and protocols in place, hopefully, we won’t see ourselves in as long of a shutdown,” said Collett.
The money would come from the state’s general fund.
Collett is currently gathering cosponsors for the bill.
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