Equipment shortage puts Triangle home health care workers in danger during coronavirus outbreak


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Home health care nurses are considered essential, working to keep the most at-risk population healthy and out of the hospital. However, a shortage of personal protective equipment makes their critical work more challenging.

Sharon Scotton has 40 years of experience as a nurse. For the last two years, she’s worked as a home health nurse with Nurse Care North Carolina. She’s taken serious steps to keep herself and her two clients safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I won’t do anyone else because I’m literally afraid. I’m 70-years-old. I’m one of your workers that should really be staying at home, but I am very healthy,” Scotton said.

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Nurse Care of North Carolina provides non-medical personal care services to the elderly and adults. The company’s CEO, Ari Medoff, said nurses like Scotton are a key part of the public health response to COVID-19 by lessening the load on hospital staff and resources.

“Our ability to care for clients in their homes will keep many out of the hospital, which are going to need all the beds, all the equipment,” Medoff said.

Using PPE is key to health care workers staying healthy. Medoff said finding the necessary supplies has been extremely difficult. He’s had to source gowns and masks from multiple places. He even turned to a friend with a 3D printer.

“In the course of a day, he got the drawings to produce face shields and has now produced 50 face shields for us to use,” Medoff said.

Scotton relies heavily on PPE. He wears gloves every day on the job.

“When you’re working with clients with dementia, you have to remind them to wash their hands. So, I constantly keep gloves with me because I’m constantly finding tissues laying around, and I’m constantly spraying with the Clorox wipes,” she said.

Scotton takes her temperature every day before going to a client’s home. After work, she heads straight home and immediately puts her clothing in the washer to minimize any potential exposure.

Despite the challenges and concerns about her own health, Scotton said the care she’s providing is essential.

“It’s very important that my client knows she has me to depend on. I love my work. This is my calling. I’m very passionate about it,” she said.

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