NEW YORK (CBSNew York) – Tons of personal protective equipment, crucial during a pandemic, could now be in danger.
PPE, including one-size-fits-all isolation gowns, is stored outside in the summer heat under blue tarps at a veterans home in Queens.
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“It’s really disturbing. I mean, we’ve all fought against COVID. We needed all the PPE we could get, ”said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The mayor and city health officials were asked about the New York State Veterans’ Home outdoor reserve in St. Albans, which is managed by the state’s health department.
They say there is no way to guarantee that all equipment is still fully protective.
“There is no acceptable reason to keep PPE outside. You keep PPE not only indoors, but you keep it in rooms with the right temperature and humidity to protect its viability, ”said Dr. Mitchell Katz, President and CEO of NYC Health and Hospitals.
On Tuesday, Chopper 2 caught workers sifting through supplies, once scarce and desperately needed during the height of COVID.
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The website Reports “The City” the boxes have been outside under the tarps for months.
De Blasio did not mention his political enemy, Governor Andrew Cuomo, but did refer to ongoing investigations into his handling of nursing homes during the pandemic and their death toll.
“This begs the question, again, what is New York State doing with nursing homes? Why is their oversight so lax? What do we need to do to change the laws? Said de Blasio.
The New York State Department of Health issued the following statement:
“The NYS Veterans’ Home in St. Albans, like other skilled nursing facilities, continues to receive, manage and use a supply of PPE items in an ongoing effort to combat the pandemic, remain ready for any future development and meet state and federal regulations governing PPE procurement requirements. The facility’s current supply of PPE, including the 60 day supply required, is properly stored indoors. While an additional amount of PPE, separate from the 60-day supply and not needed for daily household needs, was stored outside due to a lack of available storage, the facility is working for weeks to move supplies to campus. storage facilities and identify additional storage facilities. This process will continue until all of the items are inside – a process that should be completed by the end of the week. The suggestion that all objects outside are rotten and infested with rodents is inaccurate, and reports of massive damage to these objects are grossly exaggerated. In fact, only a small percentage of boxes show visible damage, and we will thoroughly inspect anything stored outside to ensure that PPE is suitable for use. We are investigating whether any PPE may have been damaged unnecessarily and will take appropriate corrective action. “
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A staff member from the VA federal facility next door told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes off camera that she was outraged to learn this given that they had to purchase their own PPE during the height of the pandemic.