An appeal for donations of protective equipment went online this week. (Screen grab)

An appeal for donations of protective equipment went online this week. (Screen grab)

An inside look at the COVID-19 battle at Langley Memorial Hospital

As number of cases rise, so does anxiety among health care staff

As the number of COVID-19 cases rises at Langley Memorial Hospital (LMH), so has the level of stress for staff.

Anonymous sources told the Langley Advance Times that while the hospital hasn’t run out of supplies such as protective mask, wipes and swabs, it has come uncomfortably close on occasion.

Dixon Tam, a spokesperson for the Fraser Health Authority (FHA) said the province has a stockpile of medical supplies in place to respond to the pandemic.

“[FHA] continually updates the inventory to ensure we have what we need during this public health emergency,” Tam said.

READ MORE: Langley Memorial Hospital restricts visits to reduce COVID-19 spread

According to hospital sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the situation hasn’t been helped by people who have been stealing supplies like masks, hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes, forcing the hospital to store them in a secure room.

Another said anxiety about exposure to the virus is rising with the numbers, with some suffering panic attacks before they report for work.

On the plus side, in recent days, an automotive supply business has provided LMH with much-needed masks, while hand sanitizers made by an Abbotsford distillery have arrived as well.

Tam said the FHA is “doing everything we can to protect our health care workers and, as Dr. Bonnie Henry [the provincial health officer] stated, we do have sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment.”

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An emergency-room doctor at Peace Arch Hospital has launched a website aimed at helping ensure health-care workers both locally and across the province have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) – such as N95 masks – on hand to cope with an anticipated increase in COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Sunny Johal said he set up Mask a Hero British Columbia on Sunday to connect those who have extras of unused supplies with hospital and other health-care organizations that need them.

Johal – who has worked at PAH for about a year – said he heard from dentists’ offices, tattoo parlours and even those in the film industry who wanted to offer their stock. “They said, ‘hey, we want to donate these – where and how do we do this?’” he said.

The site currently includes contact information for donation co-ordinators across B.C., including Peace Arch Hospital, Vancouver Coastal Health, Providence Health and Fraser Health, and is being updated regularly, Johal said, noting the website is also for Ontario, as he also has contacts – and a licence to practise – there.

In addition to masks, items sought include goggles, surgical gowns and face shields.

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