I am making an unusual, but critically important personal plea to you for help.

As you may be aware, Illinois hospitals and health systems are facing a critical shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as they care for increasing numbers of patients with COVID-19.  Yesterday, the number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois nearly doubled to 288. We anticipate that the number of cases will increase dramatically in the coming days and weeks, exhausting all the PPE at hospitals, including gowns, gloves, eye shields and, especially, medical masks (specifically, standard surgical masks and N95s, which have NIOSH or FDA approval, including expired N95s).

PPE is critical to protecting our frontline healthcare workforce from infection when testing and treating patients for COVID-19, keeping our dedicated physicians, nurses, technicians and others in our hospitals where they are needed most.

Earlier this week, you may have seen or heard that Vice President Mike Pence asked all construction companies to donate unused/packaged N95 masks to their local hospitals and to limit ordering more:

“We would make one specific request, and that is we would urge construction companies to donate their inventory of N95 masks to your local hospital and forgo additional orders of those industrial masks…Because of what the president asked to be included in legislation moving through the Congress, those industrial masks that they use on construction sites are perfectly acceptable for healthcare workers to be protected from a respiratory disease.” (See a news story on the Vice President’s remarks at a White House press conference)

In addition, there may be available N95 masks from dental offices or other healthcare facilities that have been temporarily shuttered because of the COVID-19 crisis.

On behalf of more than 200 hospitals and health systems across Illinois, I ask you to donate N95s to your local hospitals. This donation can be facilitated by contacting Patrick Sonin at IHA at psonin@team-iha.org or 630-276-5458.

We greatly appreciate any help you can provide to protect healthcare workers as they provide life-saving care to patients during this crisis.  Thanks for considering, and please let me know if you have any questions or need more information.