Coronavirus Latest: As Community Gives Back, Bucks County Nurse Anticipates Hospital Supplies Will Be ‘Hit Hard’

LANGHORNE, Pa. (CBS) — Outside St. Mary’s Medical Center, the community was inspired to help the health care workers inside. The community came together on Sunday to donate medical supplies.

It was a call for action at St. Mary’s Medical Center as cars stopped to donate boxes of N95 masks to hospital staff. Nurse Jim Gentile believes the coronavirus outbreak will soon reach critical mass.

“We’re anticipating in the next week or so that we’re going to get hit hard by [COVID-19], so we just wanted to be prepared. That’s what nurses do — we’re prepared,” Gentile said.

Staff at St. Mary’s Medical Center say they’re not out of N95 masks yet, but they’re being as proactive as possible.

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“We’re grateful to have what we have, but you know what, sometimes you just have to go to the community and say help us,” Gentile said.

If it hasn’t yet already reached them, many in the health care world are preparing for a mass shortage, including one of Philadelphia’s largest hospitals, Temple University.

“We are in the same situation sort of everyone nationwide that there may be a time when the demand exceeds the supply,” Temple University Hosptial Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Claire Raab said.

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Raab says the hospital is looking at a University of Nebraska study that shows UV light could be used to sterilize and reuse masks in the event of N95s are too scarce.

Should it come to that point and masks need to be used continuously, Temple is looking into a scenario making one mask last eight hours.

“We have really been trying every outlet to find masks in the case that they are needed and a lot of them are nontraditional,” Raab said.

Back in Langhorne, Gentile’s box begins to overflow.

“I’ve been a nurse 41 years here and I’ve taken care of this community 41 years, and they’re taking care of us,” Gentile said.