TRSA Submits Comments on Reusable PPE to Senate Committee
TRSA President & CEO Joseph Ricci recently submitted comments on the importance of reusable personal protective equipment (PPE) to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) as part of the committee’s request for information on policies that the committee should consider during the reauthorization process for the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA). The act is due to be reauthorized before the end of this fiscal year.
The committee is considering specific changes that Congress could make to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of current Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) programs and activities, and any gaps in those programs and/or activities. The committee is also examining ways to improve partnerships with states and localities, community-based organizations, as well as private sector and non-government stakeholders such as hospitals and healthcare providers on preparedness and response activities.
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed pre-existing problems and weaknesses in the healthcare system. Early in the pandemic, media reports across the country depicted makeshift alternatives to isolation gowns and masks, including nurses wearing trash bags and raincoats over their scrubs and using snorkels. This was due to widespread shortages in disposable products, including PPE, due to domestic and international supply chain disruptions.
In the U.S., more than 90% of healthcare PPE and operating room textiles are single use, even though ample supplies of reusable equivalents are available. By comparison, other countries such as Canada and England maintain inventories of 80% reusable healthcare textiles. Studies have found that reusable textiles are every bit as safe – if not safer – than their disposable counterparts.
As of October 2022, the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) contained 59.2 million surgical gowns and coveralls. It is unknown how many of these are reusable vs. disposable. Congress should ensure that the SNS contains a suitable number of reusable PPE to be prepared for supply-chain disruptions during an emergency. This could be done by either requiring a specific number or percentage of reusable PPE in the SNS. Reusable PPE can be laundered and returned to healthcare facilities without stressing the supply chain during an emergency.
To read the comments submitted by Ricci on behalf of TRSA and the linen, uniform and facility services industry, click here. Questions? Contact TRSA’s Vice President of Government Relations Kevin Schwalb at email@example.com.