Apria Healthcare, a national home care provider of oxygen therapy and other durable medical equipment, recommended employees wear surgical masks when working in areas that have been impacted by swine flu, Executive Vice President Lisa Getson told the Associated Press. The company is also keeping N95 respirators for all employees dealing with patients showing symptoms of the swine flu.
Experts predict nearly 10 million patients could be admitted to hospitals and 1.5 million would need intensive care in a worst-case scenario. They also believe 750,000 people would need mechanical ventilators to continue breathing. This is a high end item provided by home care companies and one that may see high demand should things worsen. Mechanical Ventilators are primarily used to treat patients with severe lung injury, chronic pulmonary disease and neurological problems that disrupt. The devices use a tube inserted through the nasal passage to force air into the lungs.
The AP article titled Swine flu drives demand for face masks, mentions mechanical ventilator manufacturers Respironics as well as Cardinal Health. Cardinal Health’s spokesperson said, “it's too early to know if that will translate into a meaningful increase in actual demand." Last year the company sold 1,850 portable ventilators to New York Department of Health as part of its flu preparedness program.”
Currently in high demand is masks and other protective items, drugstore chains such as Walgreens and CVS has explained. While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has not recommended people wear masks claiming limited evidence that they are effective, the increase in sales has not faltered.
The CDC does suggest hand washing and covering one’s mouth when coughing or sneezing
The American Association for Homecare helped develop a guide for the durable medical equipment community to deal with a pandemic flu. View the text at http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/healthcare/homehealth.html.
To read the full Associated Press article as published in the New York Times, please visit: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/04/29/business/AP-US-Swine-Flu-Masks.html.