Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York is reportedly experiencing shortages of masks and other protective equipment as demand continues to skyrocket during the global coronavirus pandemic.
Buzzfeed reported earlier this week that a transcript from a staff meeting on March 13 revealed that the hospital had just one week’s supply of masks in inventory. That shortage is being attributed to production and distribution delays in China, according to the report.
At least five employees and three patients at Sloan Kettering have been diagnosed with COVID-19, which raises concern even further, given the low supply of masks and other protective equipment, the Buzzfeed report said.
According to Cancer.org, cancer patients are among those at high risk of serious illness stemming from infection due to the weakening of their immune systems attributed to cancer and the associated treatments. Those who finished cancer treatments years ago likely have immune systems that recovered, but every person is different.
Buzzfeed reported that preliminary data from China revealed that cancer patients have a 5.6% fatality rate if they contract coronavirus, whereas people with zero underlying conditions have a 0.9% fatality rate.
Memorial Sloan Kettering senior VP of supply chain & sustaining care Kreg Koford reportedly said that new shipments of equipment haven’t come in “a couple of months,” and a spokesperson told Buzzfeed that the hospital’s officials are seeking ways to obtain supplies from other sources.
Hospital officials also emphasized in the transcript that not all coronavirus cases that involve employees or patients were related to exposure at the hospital itself, with some related to community exposure.
Last week, reports claimed that some U.S. hospitals were facing short supplies of N95 respirator masks from 3M (NYSE:MMM). The company said in a news release on March 2 that its plant in Aberdeen, S.D., is running around the clock producing the masks.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center couldn’t be reached immediately for comment.