‘Don’t stop producing, it’s never enough’, SGH doctor pleads to volunteers making PPE

Volunteers coordinating PPE production holding up the boot cover and hood cover.

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, April 6: A doctor coordinating the personal protective equipment (PPE) at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) has urged volunteers to continue producing more for frontliners.

Dr Ian Bong, the liaison officer of PPE in the operation rooms at SGH, said a full set of PPE for a medical personnel includes a face shield, hood cover, boot cover, isolation gown, gloves and a N95 face mask, which “will never be enough”, as they can only be used once.

He explained that after a medical personnel treated a Covid-19 patient, the full set of gear would have to be disposed before proceeding to treat another patient.

Dr Bong said this was to prevent a “cross contamination”, and because of this precautionary practice, PPE will always be in high demand at SGH and other hospitals across Sarawak despite the diligent production of PPEs by concerned Sarawakians.

“PPE is still not enough. It will never be enough because the usage is high.

“For face shields, we may be able to recycle them by cleaning and disinfecting them. The rest, we really can’t recycle or wear to see a second patient to avoid cross contamination,” Dr Bong told DayakDaily.

At present, due to the help from many Sarawakians who volunteer to sew hood covers, boot covers, isolation gowns and also those trying to create face shields using 3D printers, there are enough PPE for SGH staff, except for N95 masks, which are now running low in supply, he added.

“For N95, it is a bit tricky because for N95, we can’t DIY (do it yourself) and also not all brands are suitable.

“SGH does have a stock of N95, but the stock is running low and importation has been difficult as the major country of production, the United States, is also of high demand for it due to the widespread Covid-19 pandemic.

“N95 are usually from the United States and now, they also need a lot of them. So, it is a bit difficult for us now. Recently, we did receive a lot of KN95, which is not certified. So the whole batch is unusable, it is a bit wasted,” he explained.

N95 is produced by the United States and certified by its Food and Drug Administration (FDA). KN95 on the other hand, is produced by China. Due to high demand and great need, the FDA has, on Friday (April 3), announced that it will allow the use of KN95.

A file pic of the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) in Kuching.

In order to meet the high demand of PPE, Dr Bong first started to coordinate SGH internal medical personnel who are not directly fighting Covid-19 to produce more PPE by using the available raw material in the hospital store.

Dr Bong’s initiative somehow travelled beyond the walls of SGH and reached concerned individuals such as Jacqueline Fong of Tanoti and Amanda Chua of Life Care Society.

A Kuching PPE production team started to take shape with Dr Bong sending out the needs of SGH with Fong and Chua coordinating with Kuchingites who are willing to sew to save lives.

Presently, more than 100 Kuchingites have signed up and many of them have been regularly sewing PPE for the medical personnel in SGH and other high risks places such as the Covid-19 Testing Centre at the Youth and Sports Complex. — DayakDaily