BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts General Hospital president Peter Slavin stressed the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gowns during the coronavirus outbreak. Slavin said if doctors and nurses were forced to treat coronavirus patients without safety equipment “it would be like sending soldiers into war without helmets or armor.”

Slavin made the comments during an interview on the Today Show. Slavin said hospital workers are prepared and holding up well, but they have concerns about equipment.

“I also think there’s a fair amount of fear,” Slavin said. “Healthcare workers are being put in situations where they could endanger their own health. That’s why we need these PPE supplies to last as long as possible. It would be unfortunate if healthcare workers found themselves in a position that they had to treat these patients without protective equipment. It would be like sending soldiers into war without helmets or armor. That would be a tragic situation.”

Slavin said he has heard from many people who are trying to convert their businesses into businesses that can manufacture equipment. He’s also heard from people sewing masks to donate.

The Mass General president suggested that construction masks should be given to healthcare workers. Earlier this week, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh ordered all construction projects in the city be halted due to coronavirus.

“It’s really going to take the compassion, the energy, the imagination of the American people to get us through this. I have no doubt they will rise to the occasion,” said Slavin.

There are currently 328 positive coronavirus tests in Massachusetts. Eight of those are being treated at Mass General, with 100 patients still waiting for test results.

The hospital has plans in place to double its ICU capacity from 150 up to 300 patients if needed. Still, Slavin said he hopes it doesn’t reach that point.

“We want to plan for the worst and hope for the best,” said Slavin.


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