Health care workers call supply shortage ‘a crisis’

WASHINGTON — Health care workers across the country are continuing to sound the alarm about the lack of medical supplies at hospitals.

“If we do not have a coordinated response, people are going to die. We’re going to have patients die and health care providers die,” University of Michigan Dr. Meilan Han said.

Han says the shortage of medical supplies at hospitals across the country is its own crisis.

“We are doing creative things with personal protective equipment I never would have dreamed of,” she said. “I have never seen this level of anxiety among health care workers.”

With the number of patients needing care increasing, she’s calling on the federal government to step in.

“The states would do their best to meet the challenge, but I don’t think they’ll be able to do it with the time pressures that we have,” Han said.

“We need a coordinated response,” Michigan Sen. Gary Peters said.

Peters says Michigan is seeing a huge influx in patients needs to be a top priority. He also says the Trump administration’s choice to let states lead is slowing progress.

“States are out trying to buy where they can and what happens is they tend to bid against each other,” Peters said.

But while lawmakers fight, Han says time is running.

“I’m absolutely furious,” Han said.

With the national stockpile of protective equipment running low, the White House says it is working to purchase more, while also urging states to do more.

“The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states stockpiles that they then use,” White House advisor Jared Kushner said.

Michigan Congressman Bill Huizenga says the White House is right.

“We have to think differently,” Huizenga said. “You have to have some federal coordination, yet at the same time … the states will know better what they need”

On Friday, nearly 200 health organizations, including the American Lung Association, called on the federal government to take control of the medical supply need.

They want the Trump administration to take additional action in helping critical shortage of ventilators, PPE and ensuring patients and providers are safe.