As COVID-19 progresses in California, local medical practices continue to be impacted by the lack of resources available to local businesses in Riverside.
Local owners of these establishments reflect on how, even though they received financial assistance through the CARES Act, they continue to struggle to obtain personal protective equipment and industrial cleaning supplies.
United Small Business Administration announced that Governor Newsom signed the CARES Act which is a loan that small businesses can apply for financial assistance.
Mohammad Salman, a local pharmacy owner in Riverside, said that COVID-19 has made it difficult for him to obtain personal protective equipment, industrial cleaning supplies and medications for his pharmacy.
“I stocked up on my inventory, I spent more money on my inventory because you’ll never know when you’ll get this medication back or not. I spent most of my profit now on inventory,” said Mohammad Salman, who expressed his concerns of possibly not having the medications needed to keep his pharmacy from closing.
Salman explained that COVID-19 medications like albuterol inhalers were hard to obtain because big wholesale companies had to stop selling their medications to retail pharmacies and send them to hospitals. He explained that at one point he was paying $40 for each inhaler and he had to purchase 200 inhalers because he wasn’t sure when he would get another opportunity to purchase such a big quantity.
He further explained that he had to purchase industrial cleaning supplies through multiple wholesale companies and still wasn’t able to obtain Clorox or Lysol.
“I went through big and small whole-sale companies and I was only able to obtain 70% alcohol solutions. I purchased what the wholesaler had in-stock which was 40 bottles for $5 each, when before I use to get it for 50 cents each bottle,” said Salman.
Local doctor of optometry, Cheryl Everitt, O.D., owner of a medical practice in Riverside, expressed how the pandemic made it difficult to obtain PPE and industrial cleaning supplies.
“During quarantine, I was literally spending hours trying to build a stock-pile of supplies. I ended up purchasing 70 % isopropyl alcohol solution and gloves from an animal health company that’s designed for Veterinarians. The most I paid for alcohol solution was $50 dollars a gallon and I had to purchase 2,000 gloves just in case because it’s so hard to find any in stock,” said Dr. Everitt, who also experienced the same struggle of finding supplies for her office.
Dr. Everitt mentioned that she struggled with shortage of staff and production for her business because of the pandemic. There was a delay in production of prescription glasses and it became difficult for her business to maintain the 7-day turn-around time for her patient’s prescription glasses to be ready.
“We had ads out and nobody responded, so now I have a few people responding. But trying to get enough staff has been a huge challenge,” said Dr. Everitt, who also is struggling trying to find people to work for her office. She commented that some of her own staff told her that they would be making more money if they would have stayed home under unemployment.
Another medical practice owner Jean Cheng, M.D., shares her experience on PPE and industrial cleaning supplies. With the CARES Act, Dr. Cheng has the financial support to pay for PPE and industrial cleaning supplies.
“The cost of the supplies has gone up because of COVID-19 and it takes a while to get here but I have no struggle purchasing it through multiple wholesalers,” said Dr. Cheng.
Mary Ofili, a registered nurse (RN), shared a different experience. Because she works for hospitals in Riverside treating COVID-19 patients in intensive care units, she explained how early in March, the hospitals she worked for were struggling to find personal protective equipment gear.
“At first, we did not have the proper PPE, we did not have the face mask, goggles and gowns so it was very difficult at first. They were having us reuse some of our PPE,” said Ofili.
Ofili is currently in school and completing her hours at a local medical practice in order to become a nurse practitioner. Ofili expresses that it’s important that hospitals get the supplies that they need but also that medical practices need supplies as well.
Not only has Ofili experienced shortage of supplies in hospitals in Riverside, CA but is also now experiencing the struggle that local medical practices are facing because resources aren’t available for them.
“With my understanding, hospitals’ are placed as priority because they treat an abundance of patients so I understand why the government will give them priority for the PPE and cleaning supplies. I have now worked for both and I see them both as vital for the community” explained Ofili.
Local residents are expressing their concerns by taking a poll on Twitter on the lack of resources that are available for local medical practices. “I don’t see how this issue can be fixed because COVID-19 is still an on-going issue. Hospitals, Urgent Cares and medical practices are all in need of PPE and industrial cleaning supplies,” said Ofili.