According to the OSHA, it is always the employers responsibility to comply with PPE standards and therefore buy the PPE for the employee. This is referenced in their COVID-19 documentation here. The level of PPE your employer must provide is determined by the Hazard Recognition process. The OSHA provide industry specific guidance on their website here.
All hospitals and doctors’ offices have a set process for buying their necessary equipment and supplies. Yet, with COVID-19 cases still rising across most of the United States, this process has been thrown into chaos and left millions of essential workers without the proper protection.
Just like any major business, all hospitals have a purchasing and supply department which is responsible for ordering all of the supplies that are needed. This includes PPE, as well as lab equipment, treatments, cleaning supplies. They also keep track of inventory to be sure that nothing runs out too quickly and that more supplies are ordered to keep everyone prepared.
Although smaller in size, standard doctors’ offices will have a designated purchasing manager in charge of purchasing and inventory. While there are some solo practitioners who have to purchase their own equipment and supplies, more often they will have a secretary or receptionist take on this task.
Typically, hospitals will purchase their PPE from medical suppliers, such as Owens & Minor or our team here at New York Microscope Company. Depending on the product in question, they will first request a quote from the seller and provide company information. All purchases are usually made with a company credit card, like any standard business. Once delivered, they are stored away in an adjoined warehouse and delivered to each wing as is needed.
Yet with the current pandemic, the process of buying PPE has changed drastically for hospitals. An increase in patients means an increased need for this equipment, which means that supplies run out quickly and cannot be restocked in time. As a result of these backorders and consistently low supplies, doctors and nurses have had to purchase their own PPE from other retailers. Since the middle of March, hospitals have been making desperate public calls for donations, from ventilators to cloth masks and face shields. And local supermarkets around the country are now offering packets of disposable face masks to average consumers, many of which are now bought by those in the medical field.
All of this is why it’s so important that those who aren’t essential workers educate themselves on the best outlets to purchase their own face masks from. And it’s also a good reason why all companies who consider themselves essential should offer each other aid during this uncertain time. Even though microscopes have always been our main focus, we at New York Microscope Company have a wide selection of PPE available for hospitals and organizations across the country.
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