SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — As cases of coronavirus continue to increase with more businesses reopening, a local lawmaker is proposing a bill that would require the state, and health care providers to keep months-worth of extra personal protective equipment (PPE) on hand.
It’s been three months of stress and worry for EMT Gabriel Montoya with not enough PPE to go around.
“Every day we are worried that this might be the day that we get it,” Montoya said. “For three shifts, sometimes at length, which means we are going from patient room to patient room with the same mask and we could possibly be giving this to patients.”
Montoya works at Kaiser Medical Center in Downey. Even now he says his hospital still struggles with getting new supplies.
“Even today, even though I do get an N95 when I’m working with COVID patients, it’s a reprocessed N95,” he said.
Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) introduced Senate Bill 275 this week, which aims to fix that problem.
The bill would require the state to stockpile a 90-day supply of PPE for all health care workers as well as essential employees. Health care providers would also have to have their own three-month supply for their workers.
Additionally, the bill requires 25% of that equipment would be produced in California in hopes to prevent a shortage.
“Having emergency supplies at hand allows you to quickly respond to the infection. When you don’t have the supplies, what we learned is that unfortunately caused a lot of problems. It put health care workers at risk, it put their patients at risk,” Senator Pan said.
The legislation would cost the state $50 million each year for five years if passed.
The state has already spent billions since the pandemic began.
“This is really a step towards preparedness and that why I think this is an important investment to try to protect our future from a future pandemic and economic decline because of that,” Pan said.
For those on the front lines like Montoya, it would give him the peace of mind he’s been hoping for.
“We feel like the federal government has dropped the ball, we have not been prioritized in our safety and we feel like okay, California it is time to step up,” Montoya said. “We want to go in there and care for patients as best as we can, but we don’t just want to be called health care heroes right, we don’t want to be martyrs.”