By David Doolittle
Originally published on the Texas Medical Association website.
Some North Texas physicians are about to receive desperately needed personal protective equipment (PPE) thanks to a partnership between the Texas Medical Association, the Tarrant County Medical Society, and the North Texas Regional Advisory Council (RAC).
The county medical society received a shipment of PPE from the RAC on Saturday that will be distributed to area physicians based on their practices’ needs, CEO Brian Swift said.
“This has been a team effort – everyone from the TMA, the RACs, and the doctors’ offices – to get these supplies where they need to go,” Mr. Swift said. “In North Texas, it’s been tough sledding for weeks, but it’s finally getting worked out.”
The collaboration, which began last week, is part of an effort to distribute PPE to the state’s community physicians, who have grown increasingly desperate for the protective equipment they need to care safely for patients.
Under the program, physicians indicate their PPE needs through an online portal created by TMA, which will forward that data regularly through eight designated Hospital Preparedness Programs (HPPs) and RACs. The RACS and HPPs will make the supplies available for county medical societies and other organizations to distribute.
That’s what happened Saturday, when Mr. Swift received word that the North Texas RAC in Arlington had PPE available for physicians in Tarrant County, as well as nearby Parker and Johnson counties.
“I rented a U-Haul van, drove to Arlington and pulled up to the RAC,” Mr. Swift said. “There were two National Guard guys there who helped me load the PPE. I drove it back to our headquarters and returned the truck. It took about three hours total.”
The supplies include K95 masks, surgical masks, and face shields, which will be added to several thousand N95 and surgical masks that MedStar Ambulance service donated to the society a few weeks ago, Mr. Swift said.
Society officials have been contacting area physicians with instructions on when and how to pick up the PPE, he said.
“They’re just grateful, the staffs, the nurses, they’re excited to have it,” he said. “It’s great because we get to meet a bunch of new people.”
The portal is not a PPE order form. The amount and type of PPE in state warehouses varies each week. Submitting a form does not guarantee practices will receive supplies. Physicians whose data indicates a need for PPE will be placed on a distribution list to receive supplies as they become available.
To ensure each practice submits only one set of data to the PPE Portal, not all Texas physicians have received personalized login credentials. If you did not receive the credentials via email, check with your practice manager or the lead physician in your practice. Practices with multiple locations are considered a single practice. If it appears that no physician at your practice received the credentials, please contact the TMA Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955 or by email.
For more details, see the TMA PPE Distribution Q&A document.
Remember, you can find the latest news, resources, and government guidance on the coronavirus outbreak by visiting TMA’s COVID-19 Resource Center regularly.