CMA launches free PPE direct shipments for California physicians and medical groups

March 02, 2021
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health 

The California Medical Association (CMA) is extending its distribution of free personal protective equipment (PPE) with direct shipment of supplies to California physicians.

The new online portal offers California physicians the ability to  select specific types of PPE including coveralls, face shields, goggles, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, isolation gowns, N95 masks, surgical masks and nitrile gloves. Please note, inventory is first-come, first-served, and each practice is limited to one order every 30 days. The PPE is free, and the medical practice pays a nominal cost for shipping and handling.

CMA distributed over 100 million pieces of PPE to physicians and medical groups from August 1 to December 31, 2020. The donations supported approximately 100,000 California physicians and their staff, which represented a total value of more than $200 million. 

“Lack of PPE throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded hardships for medical practices and hindered physicians’ ability to serve patients,” said CMA President Peter N. Bretan, Jr., M.D. “We knew we had to act – and fast – to help physicians keep their practices open. What resulted was an unprecedented effort in the organization’s 165-year history. CMA is grateful to our partners for their collaboration and support, which ultimately helped so many Californians continue to receive health care.” 

Last summer, CMA partnered with local county medical societies to develop an entirely new statewide distribution system for essential medical equipment, which included PPE donations from the Office of Emergency Services (OES). 

Within weeks, PPE was being moved from state warehouses, repackaged into individual kits and loaded on trucks to be handed out at drive-through events across the state. Physicians and medical practices also accessed PPE through their local county medical society or CMA’s online request portal.

As of December 31, 2020, the effort had distributed a combination of 35 million masks, 35 million sets of gloves, 2.3 million isolation gowns, 2.5 million face shields, 400,000 hooded coveralls, 21 million N95 respirators, 3 million sanitizing wipes and 700,000 sanitizer bottles. 

“I’m really impressed with the distribution operations to small- and medium-sized practices,” said Richard Siedman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the LA Care Health Plan. “These medical practices are critical to the overall health care delivery system in our state and enables physicians and their staff to more safely provide the care that their patients need.”

“These free PPE kits were a lifeline during a very challenging year,” said Elk Grove cardiologist Rajan Hundal, M.D. “Without the donations, we would have had to limit hours or close our practice completely. The PPE helped our patient care team stay healthy and enabled us to continue serving our patients – our community is healthier because of this program.” 

The lessons learned during the PPE distribution effort will be applied to helping the state build its vaccination network.

“The administration of COVID-19 vaccines brings hope into focus, but the global pandemic remains challenging,” said Dr. Bretan. “Equity and speed remain vital components of any successful vaccination strategy, and we cannot compromise one for the other. The lessons learned distributing PPE will guide CMA as we help the state build out their robust vaccination network connected to community physicians that millions of Californians already rely on for flu shots and routine vaccinations.” 

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