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Obama HHS Sec. in 2009: ‘There Are Not Adequate Supplies’ of Masks, Protective Equipment

‘That discussion is actively underway’

From April 7, 2009:

WALDEN: “Are you and your folks confident that in these environments where all of us who get sick are going to rush that there is adequate — whatever we call it — the materials, the masks, the protective equipment, whatever, so that those we rely upon for our health care will in and of themselves be healthy in the process and not at unnecessary risk?

SEBELIUS: “Congressman, that discussion is actively underway, and as I said, the guidance from the CDC is about to be issued. We — there — the scientists have not been in complete agreement about the right protocol, particularly with the use of respirators — “

WALDEN: “I’ve read that.”

SEBELIUS: “ — going forward, so the request went to the Institute of Medicine to do a sort of rapid response study. They came back with a protocol, which I would suggest is the ideal case scenario, a respirator per provider for every patient seen. There are not adequate supplies to follow that protocol.”

WALDEN: “So one new respirator for every patient — every time you see a patient, the doctor or a nurse would have to put on a new respirator — “

SEBELIUS: “That’s what the IOM suggested and the stockpiles in the country, in the manufacturing capacity would not allow us to follow that protocol. So right now we are working actively with OSHA and CDC and the health care providers to develop a protocol that actually is more in fitting with what the supply looks like because IOM was told not to take into account what’s available or what could be available over the next six months. Unfortunately, the reality is we got to look at what’s available, so that discussion is actively underway.”

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