A CEO of a Georgia-based hospital on Wednesday said the supplier of a protective mask critical for health care workers treating COVID-19 patients is charging $7 for the masks that typically cost 58 cents.
“We were just looking at sourcing these at a company out of Mexico,” Scott Steiner, CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System, said in an appearance on CNN’s “At This Hour with Kate Bouldan,” referring to the N95 masks.
“They want $7 per mask, they've got a million of them on hand. And this is a mask that would normally cost us 58 cents.”
“But I would tell you, we’re probably going to go ahead and take them for $7 each because we're that desperate,” Steiner said.
He runs a hospital system. His teams are running out of protective gear. So they've now resorted to sewing their own masks to extend the life of the critical N95 masks they have left. Scott Steiner, CEO of @Phoebe_Putney pic.twitter.com/c1eTD1U9Dt— Kate Bolduan (@KateBolduan) March 18, 2020
Steiner said the hospital system was “waiting for the coronavirus to hit” the U.S., but despite overbuying supplies, he said the hospital is still depleting its equipment.
“Until it truly does [hit] you don’t realize what you’ll be going through,” he said.
Steiner said the Albany, Georgia-based hospital began to see an influx of patients last Tuesday and Wednesday. He said the hospital has gone through six months' worth of supplies in less than a week.
Employees are now working to sew together masks out of surgical sheets that he said could be used over the N95 mask to extend the life of each mask, allowing health care workers to wear them more than once.
CNN’s Bouldan asked Steiner if health care workers can be safe if they do not have this protective gear.
“They can not be safe. If you have a patient who is positive for COVID-19 they are highly contagious,” he said, adding that the N95 masks are critical.
“If we can’t keep our employees safe there will be no one to care for the patients,” he said.