Smaller family practices having trouble properly protecting healthcare workers

Along with hospitals across the country, smaller family practices are experiencing a shortage in critical equipment necessary to protect themselves and patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some local doctors have resorted to buying anything that works at local hardware stores.

Dr. Guy Culpepper’s family medicine practice in Frisco did not have its own stockpile of personal protective equipment, but he knew they needed it as they were going to start testing. He’s had to outfit his nurses in rain coats instead of gowns.

“I rushed down to Lowe’s hardware store and got a pair of goggles,” he said.

Doctor DJ Verret, a facial plastic surgeon in Plano, has been scouring the globe to acquire more PPE for primary care doctors in the area.

“And have actually gotten in touch with several folks who have factories in China that are reputable,” he said.

Dr. Verret heard about Dr. Culpepper’s PPE needs.

“Dr. Verret came by and said, ‘Guy, what you’re doing is still inadequate.’ And so Dr. Verret brings us a face shield,” Culpepper said.

Dr. Verret has helped that practice and is competing with other states and countries to secure tens of thousands of more pieces of PPE for other primary care doctors.

“The minimum orders that most of these factories are taking are minimum one million-unit plus orders.  And as the medical society, we simply can’t do it,” Verret said. “Fortunately, our importers have been very kind and allow us to tack on to some very large orders that they have, so we’re going to be able to get our supplies filled.”

“My job as a doctor is to make that disease die, not to die,” Culpepper said. “And for God’s sake, if somebody is going to go in this, I don’t want it to be my nurse.”

Dr. Culpepper says he is not receiving help from the city, state or federal government. He believes that's because most help is going to hospitals.