Practices across the state are reporting dwindling supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and additional staffing needs as they ramp up testing and treatment in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Reynolds has issued a Public Health Disaster Emergency Declaration to help respond to this rapidly evolving situation.
In an effort to improve response for immediate needs for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from healthcare providers across the state, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has revised the guidance for reporting PPE shortage and requesting stockpile supplies. IDPH requests that any practice or facility whose PPE supplies are within seven days of running out (at current, optimized usage rates), contact their county emergency preparedness and response agencies.
Supplies will be distributed based on immediacy of need and those who are providing immediate direct care. Currently stockpile supplies available via area response agencies and the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) are:
Urgent requests, as defined above, are able to be filled within 2-4 days of request, subject to availability of supplies. Revised and all subsequent requests should include quantities needed to sustain 7-10 days of supplies at current usage rates (optimized). For guidance on how to optimize usage of existing PPE, please review Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of PPE from the CDC.
During this period of clinic shutdowns for some specialties, physicians and clinical staff are encouraged to consider volunteering to help with triage to expand capacity for those clinics screening and treating patients for COVID-19. Volunteering for this disaster response will not impact unemployment benefits for those who are receiving them as a result of their clinic temporarily shutting down.
The governor’s emergency declaration also allows physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and respiratory therapists whose Iowa licenses have expired or lapsed within the past five years to provide assistance and treatment of COVID-19 patients without having to obtain an active professional license.
Interested individuals are encouraged to register as a willing and able volunteer through the Iowa Statewide Registry of Emergency Volunteers (i-SERV) – the Iowa Department of Public Health's secure online registry for individuals wishing to volunteer in the event of a large-scale disaster or public health emergency. Volunteers maintain the option to accept or decline any opportunity. Volunteers may also reach out to their local public health department or county emergency management agency to offer their services and seek opportunities. Due to the Governor’s Public Health Disaster Emergency Declaration, individuals who volunteer to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic are granted liability immunity for their service.