Ada Paramedics add COVID-19 protocols

Ada County Paramedics Chief Steve Boyenger holds and N95 mask, part of the personal protective equipment (PPE) being used to protect paramedics from coronavirus, Thursday, March 19, 2020. Gowns, masks, gloves, and eye protection are being used by paramedics whenever they interact with a patient who is presenting with possible symptoms of COVID-19.

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BOISE — United Way of Treasure Valley is asking local manufacturers and businesses to donate any N95 masks to be distributed to health care workers who need them amid the novel coronavirus outbreak in the area.

Nationwide, hospital supplies such as N95 masks have dwindled. Health care workers and hospitals say they've had to ration the masks, sometimes giving doctors or nurses just one per shift, forcing them to reuse the masks.

United Way, Central District Health, Southwest District Health, local medical clinics, hospitals and social service providers have created donation portal for local businesses to donate new and unused supplies such as N95 masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies.

According to a news release, the supply of medically necessary protective equipment and medical hygiene items to fight the COVID-19 pandemic is critically low in the Treasure Valley. Health clinics, care providers, long-term care facilities, and hospitals are low, and in some cases, out of supplies, the release said.

United Way officials hope professions like manufacturing, auto, paint suppliers and technicians, personal care professionals, tattoo businesses and others that use some of the same equipment as medical providers will donate extra supplies.

In an email to Idaho Business for Education members, President and CEO Rod Gramer wrote, "Business leaders all across America are doing their part of to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and I know that our Idaho businesses are part of that effort. Ensuring that our health care workers stay healthy themselves is critical to defeating this virus and saving lives."

United Way has set up a donation page page for new and unused supplies. The organizations are collecting gloves, hand sanitizer, face masks, medical equipment, cleaning supplies and hygiene items. The donation page can be found at unitedwaytv.org.

The release said appropriate donations will be matched to whatever facility needs the donated items. Arrangements will be made to coordinate delivery of donations. Local health providers are asking residents not to deliver supplies in person. 

Across the state, local businesses are partnering with health care professionals to get them the supplies they need. In Caldwell, Koenig Distillery has partnered with St. Luke's to make hand sanitizer with the World Health Organization's recipe. 

According to KTVB, the formula included hydrogen peroxide, glycerin, alcohol and distilled water. After contracts and legal approvals, the distillery made its first batch Saturday. It produced 650 gallons of the sanitizer.

The Southwest Idaho Manufacturers' Alliance is working with the state and federal government to combat the shortage of medicals supplies in Idaho.

According to their website, the alliance sent Gov. Brad Little a list of companies that manufacture medical equipment, and sent U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, a list of manufacturers willing to help with respirator production.

Sheri Johnson, executive director of the Southwest Idaho Manufacturers’ Alliance said she is hearing hearing about a number of local manufacturers rethinking how they can help with the medical supply needs.

"Slant Concepts and Intermountain 3D have developed face shields; and open source blueprints have been made available for manufacturers to determine if they have the tools, equipment and capacity to make other items," Johnson said in an email to the Idaho Press.

Slant Concepts is located in Nampa and Intermountain 3D is based in Garden City.

Rachel Spacek is the Latino Affairs and Canyon County reporter for the Idaho Press. You can reach her at rspacek@idahopress.com. Follow her on twitter @RachelSpacek.

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