ST PAUL, Minn. — With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of slowing this spring, health care facilities have been clamoring for personal protective equipment (PPE) like N95 masks so that they can safely interact with patients.
That includes Minnesota Community Care and its St. Paul location, La Clinica, which has served largely low-income residents on the city’s West Side for a half-century.
A few weeks ago, near the beginning of the crisis, La Clinica accepted a much-needed shipment of 300 masks – a one to two-week supply split into six containers.
“The very next morning, that shipment was missing,” Minnesota Community Care Chief Operating Officer Chris Singer said. “We came to the conclusion that those masks had been taken.”
There were no signs of any break-ins, and it remains unclear who took the masks or why. Minnesota Community Care chose not to involve local police and has continued to receive regular shipments of PPE, which may become especially critical when cases reach their peak in Minnesota.
“Any mask is a lot, as we continue to work through this crisis,” Singer said. “But it’s not going to prevent us from serving the community.”
Although Singer said locations like La Clinica currently have adequate supplies to treat patients, she said the potential of a long-term shortage is something Minnesota Community Care is monitoring closely. On Monday, the Walz Administration appointed Commissioner of Administration Alice Roberts-Davis to lead Minnesota’s effort to maintain lifesaving care supplies.
In the meantime, La Clinica’s medical professionals have been fueled by generous West Side residents, who’ve dropped off supplies in recent weeks after learning about the missing 300 masks.
“And they’ve just said, ‘you know what, we heard that you needed this,’” Singer said, “and so they’re really coming from community members. And we’re very grateful for all those donations that have come in.”
Donations are still being accepted at La Clinica, located at 153 Cesar Chavez Street in St. Paul.
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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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