Free personal protective equipment donated to LA doctors who are struggling with shortage

LA-area doctors got thousands of dollars in masks, gowns, gloves and other supplies for free.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Throughout the coronavirus pandemic personal protective equipment has been at a premium for health-care workers.

PPE has been so scarce that doctors and nurses have had to re-use it, leading to other health issues.

On Monday, local and state medical groups came together to bring much needed relief to local doctors' offices.

A long line of cars stretched around the Rose Bowl, with each driver waiting to pick up boxes of valuable personal protective equipment.

Dr. Sion Roy with the Los Angeles County Medical Association says each box is worth about $5,000.

"There are N95 masks and surgical masks, gowns, gloves and sanitizers that we're distributing," he said.

The group partnered with the California Medical Association and the state of California to provide free PPE to small and medium sized doctor's practices.

Emil Ybanez with Harmony Health MD in Glendale said, "Our clinic does drive-through COVID testing. We go through more PPE than a regular clinic would."

He says it's been extremely difficult to find any masks during the past four months.

"I was just surprised how much they could get for us," Ybanez said.

George Abdelmessih is the director of his daughter's Glendale practice. He said, "We are struggling on a day-to-day basis."

Abdelmessih said when he does find PPE to buy, it's been too expensive.

"They're going for an exorbitant amount of money right now as well as very limited quantities," he said.

Many doctors and their practices have had to re-use PPE. Now, there's evidence that it could lead to an increase in infections.

"Especially when we are in a hospital setting," Roy said.

According to an internal FEMA memo obtained by ABC News, healthcare facilities in LA and Orange counties are reporting an increase in drug-resistant fungal pathogens - suspected to be due to re-using personal protective equipment.

Roy said, "Saliva. There's oxygen that circulates. So, if you don't use them properly there's potential for infections."

Doctors say these supplies may last a month at best so they're asking everyone to do their part to end this pandemic.

Roy said, "Masks really make a difference. That's the number one thing. Please wear your masks when you're out in the community. "
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