For years, Gina Jetter, MD, and the small staff at Northeast Texas Neurology Associates in Tyler didn’t think much about personal protective equipment (PPE), mostly because they didn’t use that much of it.
Dr. Jetter and her advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) would wear gloves during exams and procedures, and the clinic had masks for staff or patients who came in with a cough.
But that changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and wearing PPE not only became good practice for stopping the spread of COVID-19, the Texas Medical Board required it.
“Our needs substantially changed because of COVID-19, but we couldn’t get any [PPE] because our supplier limited it based on our prior orders,” Dr. Jetter told Texas Medicine Today. “We were stuck, and if we didn’t have proper PPE, we couldn’t stay open.”
Thankfully, Northeast Texas Neurology Associates was able to receive enough PPE to stay in business because of the Texas Medical Association PPE Portal, a partnership among TMA, county medical societies, and the state’s Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) partners and Regional Advisory Councils (RACs).
Since May 1, clinics and practices throughout the state have used the portal to obtain PPE they desperately need.
Under the partnership, clinics indicate their PPE needs through the online portal created by TMA. That information is regularly forwarded to the RACs and HPPs, which make the supplies available for county medical societies and other organizations to distribute.
In mid-June, Northeast Texas Neurology Associates received its first shipment of PPE – including N95 masks, gloves, and gowns – via the Smith County Medical Society and the Piney Woods Regional Advisory Council. The clinic received another shipment last weekend, Dr. Jetter said.
The supplies came just in time, she said.
“We did telemedicine for a month, but a physical exam is so important in treating our patients. We had to have this PPE,” she said. “When [Smith County Medical Society] said we could get equipment for free, it basically kept our doors open.”
The TMA PPE Portal allows you to tell TMA how much PPE you currently have on hand, and how much you use each day in the current COVID-19 emergency.
The portal is not a place to order PPE. Instead, it sends data to the state’s HPPs and RACs, which are responsible for distributing PPE the state purchases from the worldwide supply chain. They ship PPE allocated for physicians within their regions to local county medical societies, who then distribute it to individual physician practices.
Find more about the TMA’s PPE Portal in this PPE Distribution FAQ.
As always, check the TMA COVID-19 Resource Center regularly for up-to-date news and the latest TMA materials for your practice.