Make no mistake: We are at war.
For those who have said the COVID-19 pandemic has been blown out of proportion or that it would blow over, I say open your eyes. Look to Italy, Washington state, or New York City. The threat is real; it’s here in Texas. It cannot be avoided.
This pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime event that will change our lives forever. Yet, know that this is a war that we can and will win.
As physicians, we will be the front lines. As a profession, we will serve our patients and our society with distinction. Of this I am sure.
But as your Texas Medical Association president and colleague, I cannot stand by and see our physicians and the rest of the health care team thrown into battle poorly equipped.
The shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) is unacceptable. Steps taken by Gov. Greg Abbott and President Donald Trump are certainly positive, but realistically will not have any significant effect for weeks or months to come, especially for physicians’ practices.
But the battle already has begun. We have no time to wait.
In a letter to Governor Abbott, I urged that all personal protective equipment (PPE) from all non-health care industries be diverted to our current fight, by any means necessary. I told him, point blank, that the current shortage of PPE in Texas is unacceptable.
We are grateful for those who have donated materials through our county medical societies and others.
But the time for PPE to go anywhere other than the front lines has passed. All supply chains from industry (oil and gas, technology companies that use clean rooms, construction, auto body shops, and, yes, even dentistry and veterinary medicine) must now go to our doctors’ offices, clinics, and hospitals. There is no other option. This needs to happen immediately.
I also have urged Governor Abbott not only to continue to request PPE from the Strategic National Stockpile but to ensure that our state’s Trauma Regional Advisory Councils (RACS) deliver PPE to physicians’ clinics and offices – not just to hospitals.
In the war we are fighting, our weapons are science, compassion, and expertise. But without our armor, we are exposed. Only by being properly equipped and prepared will we prevail.