Personal Protective Equipment Conservation

The Illinois Department of Public Health is recommending all hospitals and emergency medical services’ (EMS) providers to immediately elevate conservation and contingency strategies relating to personal protective equipment (PPE). Use this guidance to conserve PPE wherever allows, while ensuring the safety of health care personnel. Receiving hospitals remain the responsible party for permitting EMS to restock equipment or supplies after transporting patients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided guidance for conservation and contingency measures that may change daily practices but may not have a significant impact on the care delivered to the patient or the safety of the health care provider. The following measures may be considered in the setting of potential shortages of N95 respirators, surgical or procedures mask, gowns, and goggles. Hospitals and EMS providers should make decisions on a case-by-case basis taking in to account local conditions.

EMS and hospital considerations MUST be made for:

  • Expediting hospital discharges for patients who can safely be sent home.
  • Maximizing use by preserving masks in a paper bag or breathable container.
  • Use of N95 masks beyond the expiration date.
  • Extended use of masks and reuse per CDC guidance.
  • Face masks as an acceptable alternative until the supply chain is restored.
  • Respirators should be prioritized for procedures likely to generate respiratory aerosols, which pose the highest exposure risk to health care personnel.
  • Eye protection, gown, and gloves continue to be recommended.
  • If there are shortages of gowns:
    • prioritize for aerosol-generating procedures,
    • care activities where splashes and sprays are anticipated, and
    • high-contact patient care activities that provide opportunities for transfer of pathogens to the hands and clothing of health care personnel.
  • When the supply chain is restored, fit-tested clinicians should again use respirators when treating patients with known or suspected COVID-19.

Last Updated:  7/22/2020

Guidance Document: