The system the Texas Medical Association set up to connect community physicians with state supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been operating since May 1. But judging by calls to the TMA Knowledge Center, Texas physicians still have lots of questions about the TMA PPE Portal.
Today, TMA published a shortened and simplified PPE Distribution FAQ document to answer those questions and help physicians get the most out of the portal.
Here are some excerpts:
Q: Can I “order” PPE for my practice through the TMA PPE Portal?
A: No. The TMA Portal is a place where you can tell TMA how much PPE you currently have on hand, and how much you use each day in the current COVID-19 emergency. Because of the limited supplies and uneven distribution of the PPE, there is no guarantee individual practices will get all – or even some – of what they need. But the portal is an important new pathway by which physicians can get at least a portion of the PPE they need because it provides hard data to the state-controlled warehouses.
Q: When and how will I get PPE?
A: The data you submit to the TMA PPE Portal is sent to the state’s Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) partners and Regional Advisory Councils (RACs). The state purchases PPE throughout the worldwide supply chain. The HPPs and RACs are responsible for distributing it. They ship PPE allocated for physicians within their regions to local county medical societies, who then distribute it to individual physician practices.
Q: How will we be notified if and when we will get PPE?
A: A local county medical society or state warehouse will notify you when and where to pick up PPE as it becomes available.
Q: How much will the PPE cost?
A: The PPE you receive from the RAC or HPP through the TMA PPE Portal will be free.
TMA leaders worked with the state to create a separate process for community physicians because most of the available supply of PPE in Texas was going to other pieces of the health care system. TMA established the PPE Portal as a tool to quantify and share with state authorities those physicians’ PPE needs.
To date, physicians have used the portal to submit data documenting their PPE needs more than 3,100 times. County societies in all corners of the state have distributed needed masks, gowns, gloves, and other protective equipment.
TMA member and nonmember physicians or their staff can submit data through the portal. All practices in the community are eligible, regardless of size, except for those owned by a hospital, which receive PPE from that facility.
Eligible physicians receive reminder emails about the PPE Portal one or two times per week, depending on the logistics in their region of the state.