By Anju Miura
BU News Service
BOSTON – As Massachusetts has faced a shortage of medical supplies, Greater Milford legislators are distributing personal protective equipment to medical centers in the area to support those who are on the front lines of the coronavirus response.
“Just making sure that people working there are as protected as possible,” said state Sen. Ryan Fattman, R-Webster, explaining why he has been picking up donated PPEs from constituents and distributing them to hospitals, fire departments and senior facilities.
Fattman has been calling on residents on Facebook to contact their legislators if they have PPE to donate. He said he and his colleagues have collected and delivered more than 30,000 gloves, 5,000 masks and other medical supplies, including alcohol swabs and gowns in support of private businesses, organizations and residents.
“Everybody is searching for those PPEs,” said state Rep. Brian Murray, D-Milford, adding that hospitals, nursing homes and funeral homes in his district are among the entities that are experiencing the shortage.
Much like other states, Massachusetts has suffered from a lack of medical supplies.
“Keeping our front line workers safe is critical, not just to the success of our efforts to fight this virus, but to the commitment that I know we all here in the commonwealth want to make to honor the commitment that they make to all of us and to our family members as they serve on the front lines,” said Gov. Charlie Baker during a press briefing on April 2 at Logan International Airport.
Fattman said people have to be mindful about social distancing while distributing PPE.
“Making sure you are staying within the definition of social distancing has been one of the challenges,” he said, adding he has asked people to put donations on the street and have them picked up right after they leave to limit direct interaction.
Murray, who visited Milford Regional Medical Center on March 23, helped Fattman distribute gloves, describing the hospital as “eerie” because many residents follow a shelter-in-place advisory and avoid unnecessary hospital visits.
“Usually, when you go there, there’s a lot of activities,” Murray said. “Folks were coming in and things were happening, but this particular part was almost dead.”
He added that this was a good sign, because it meant that residents are avoiding unnecessary hospital visits.
“The federal government has really not been in the position to lead on this,” Murray said. “So now we’ve got states bidding against each other to pay for this equipment.”
He said legislators are apprehensive about the federal government’s decision over the distribution of PPE because Massachusetts has not received the requested supplies from the national strategic stockpile.
“My hope is that the federal government does the best it can, that the governor does the best he can in getting these supplies to us,” Fattman said. “And I’m doing the best I can within the realm of what I can effectuate change.”
He said he will continue collecting donations and distributing them, utilizing his connection with constituents to help those who work on the front line.
Murray said the state has to respond effectively to the possible increase of COVID-19 cases over the next few weeks.
“It’s pretty fair to say that 100% of legislative attention has been focused on these kinds of issues,” he said.
This article was originally published on The Milford Daily News.