nib donates 100,000 surgical masks for healthcare workers during COVID-19

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Newcastle headquartered private health insurer has donated 100,000 surgical face masks to the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECC PHN).

The company said the face masks will be distributed to GPs, pharmacists and allied health professionals, including physiotherapists, chiropractors and dietitians so they can continue to see and treat patients safely during the pandemic.

The masks, which are considered an essential part of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, have been in short supply due to the huge spike in demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Managing director Mark Fitzgibbon said the company was extremely pleased to play a role in helping to keep the health workforce safe during the fight against coronavirus.

“It is crucial that we can ensure the safety and wellbeing of frontline health workers so that the community, many of which are nib members are still able to access vital services during this difficult time,” he said.

“With the assistance of the local PHN this order will supply health workers throughout the region with enough face masks for around six weeks, given they have been going through around 15,000 a week."

The company said it has worked with its joint venture partner in China, Tasly, to source the Level 2 quality masks, which are TGA compliant and have undergone accredited quality testing by the HNECC PHN upon arrival and before distribution.

"We profoundly believe in ensuring the sustainability of our communities and where we can, we want to support those on the frontline that are supporting us," said Mr Fitzgibbon.

CEO of the Primary Health Network, Richard Nankervis, said the scarce supply has meant the PHN has had to limit its distribution of masks to general practices and community pharmacies.

“We thank nib for their generous support as it will allow the PHN to offer masks to the many allied health professionals who are continuing to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr Nankervis.

“We have received feedback from allied health professionals that sourcing face masks from commercial suppliers is very difficult so the masks provided by nib will be welcomed and allow vital health services to remain open.”