CMA delivers over $80 million in personal protective equipment

In an update last week, the California Medical Association (CMA) and the California Office of Emergency Services announced they had distributed over $80 million in personal protective equipment (PPE) to almost 15,000 practices in California during a three-week time span.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, PPE shortages strained health care practices across the country, impacting safety as well as their ability to provide care.



An April survey conducted by CMA found that 54% of physicians ranked PPE as the first or second most important resource they need. “Financial assistance” was the only resource that ranked higher in importance to physicians.

In that same survey, when asked to share personal stories about how the pandemic had impacted their practices, several physicians mentioned struggling to procure their own PPE, having to resort to making their own masks, and re-using other equipment.

inSite Digestive Health Care was one of the physician groups that received PPE donations from CMA. At the start of the pandemic, they faced multiple obstacles in securing PPE including inflated prices and delayed deliveries, says Randy Farber, Chief Operating Officer at inSite Digestive.

“We probably spent dozens of hours just trying to find the PPE, and then add to that the cost,” says Farber. “It was awful.”

Farber says the PPE donations have allowed physicians and staff to breathe easier.

“We worry every time we place an order. Is it going to be filled? What’s going to happen as flu season ramps up? Are we still going to be able to get this stuff — particularly getting the hard to find things? It has been just a phenomenal relief.”

CMA announced at the beginning of July its intent to partner with the state and Altais, a health care services company, to provide free PPE equipment to small and medium sized medical practices in California. The equipment was slated for practices with fewer than 50 providers.

Between July 27 and August 13, CMA distributed 40 million pieces of PPE including 6.5 million N95 respirators, 15 million examination gloves, 15 million surgical masks, 1.5 million face shields, and 1.4 million isolation gowns.

In total, the PPE donations will assist over 40,500 physicians and provide a roughly two-month supply of masks, gloves, and gowns.

Dr. Hannah Robinson, a physician with Pacific Inpatient Physicians, says the value of the PPE donations goes beyond its core function. 

“I think knowing that we’re supported from so many different people and different organizations including the CMA really gives us a sense of relief. That you can use what you need to use. Don’t cut corners, you’re going to be taken care of. And just psychologically, it also kind of helps prevent the burnout, it helps with the feeling of being overwhelmed. So, it means a lot – not just practically but also psychologically and emotionally that we have that support,” says Robinson.  

CMA says remaining PPE surplus will be distributed to medical groups that did not qualify under the parameters of the initial program.

“To say that physicians and health care are essential at this time is an understatement, and PPE is an essential part of their ability to administer care,” said CMA President Peter N. Bretan, Jr., MD. “CMA and its county medical societies are proud to work with the state to ensure that physicians of California can keep their practices open, and keep themselves and their patients safe.”