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Health council makes savings on masks

Savings of more than $280,000 over three months were made when the Bermuda Health Council procured masks to limit the spread of Covid-19 in care homes, the organisation said today.

The health council explained that its personal protective equipment orders included 50,000 KN95 masks and 1,000 face shields.

A press release said: “The action from the health council aims to provide additional support for care home workers and its vulnerable residents from the disease.

“This will also assist care home facilities that have difficulty obtaining personal protective equipment.

“The cost of the KN95 masks, funded by the third sector, totalled $3.24 per mask — product price and international shipping included — which are now being distributed to the care homes by the health council staff.”

It added: “As a result of securing these masks, we are saving over $280,000 collectively for our care homes over the next three months — when comparing their purchase of these items at retail.

“In the retail space, these same masks often go for in excess of $8 each.”

Ricky Brathwaite, the BHeC chief executive officer, said: “I think it's often easy to criticise the lack of PPE until you get into the lion's den of procurement and realise how big of a challenge getting these products are.

“It's the time difference, the relationships that have to be managed, the surreal costs of shipping, the customs process within multiple countries, long queues of buyers vying for the same goods, the language barriers, the global reduction in cargo flights, the feeling from the pressure of not wanting to run out of PPE locally, and so many nuances that we have learnt to appreciate.

“After working round the clock for weeks, we are ready again to source the next batch of PPE and pass on as much savings as possible from bulk procurement to the community.”

The press release said that the health council teamed up with Atlanta Beats Covid, a volunteer group that includes engineers and fabricators, as well as William Strika of Roswell Firelabs in Georgia, to have 1,000 face shields made and donated to Bermuda's care homes.

It explained that the arrangement came about through connections between the BHeC and Georgia Tech university and its engineering department.

The press release added: “This was another opportunity to go outside of the normal box of procurement and leverage international relationships and creativity to support our local stakeholders.”

Ja-Mae Smith, project manager at the health council, said: “Each of the care homes are adjusting to their new normal.

“PPE training was provided in person, following social distancing guidelines by Department of Health staff, and each administrator has been supplied with a video on proper usage and discarding of PPE which can be watched by staff whenever they need a refresh.

“The procurement of the mask and face shields would not be possible without our partners in the third sector and the community.

“Because of your generous donations to the emergency fund we have been able to supplement the needs of the care homes in tremendous ways; we are ever grateful and I thank you third sector and Bermuda on behalf of all 21 care homes.

“The work to continue keeping our care homes safe is not over, we are reviewing our lessons learnt from the last few months and we will be diligently working over the summer to ensure we are prepared for the next ‘flu and cold season' in the fall.”

The BHeC said it will “continue to identify opportunities to increase access to PPE”.

Ricky Brathwaite, chief executive of the Bermuda Health Council (Photograph supplied)

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Published June 04, 2020 at 1:30 pm (Updated June 04, 2020 at 1:30 pm)

Health council makes savings on masks

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