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Cape Cod Hospital Staff Reusing N95 Masks

Ashashyou / CC0 / wikicommons

A nurse at Cape Cod Hospital says hospital employees are being asked to reuse N95 masks.

Shannon Sherman, a registered nurse in a recovery unit, says the administration is following federal guidelines to conserve resources, but nurses feel uncomfortable reusing masks that normally get thrown out every time they leave a patient’s room.


"Never in my nursing career have I ever been told to reuse an N95 mask," she said. "And so because of the severity of the situation... the nurses are very hesitant and not happy about having to reuse masks."


N95 masks are designed to fit closer to the face than a standard surgical mask and filter out airborne particles.


Sean O’Brien, Barnstable County health director, said reusing masks is not ideal, but shortages call for hard choices.


"These are things that we have to do," he said.


The CDC has issued mask re-use guidelines.


Volunteers in the community have begun to sew fabric masks to donate to hospitals, but homemade masks do not meet the same standards as the N95 masks used with COVID-19 patients.


Sherman, the nurse, said nurses know they need to conserve the supplies they have.


"But I feel like we're being put at an unnecessary risk," she said.


Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.