RICHMOND — The Virginia Department of Corrections has delivered more than 1-million units of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to its institutions and offices since March 2020, when the department first began monitoring PPE inventory and distribution. The milestone comes as the VADOC continues to navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and works to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus among inmates, probationers, parolees, and VADOC staff.
“This is the result of an amazing effort by a team of dedicated people working behind the scenes to ensure supplies are ordered, stocked and distributed effectively,” said VADOC Director Harold Clarke. “In the early stages of the pandemic, there were obvious concerns over the availability of PPE statewide and nationwide. To efficiently manage PPE, it was important to develop a plan to account for every piece of personal protective equipment we acquired and delivered to our institutions and offices.”
In March, the VADOC established an Emergency Operation Center (EOC) to manage the COVID-19 pandemic response for correctional facilities and probation offices across the state. The department also developed a satellite EOC tasked with monitoring PPE supplies, planning for inventory needs, and providing logistical support to more than 80 locations across Virginia.
“Each region established a stockpile of PPE which is administered by the Regional Business Managers,” explained Lois Fegan, PPE/ICS Planning and Logistics Manager. “PPE is ordered by a team of buyers and moved to these stockpiles for further distribution to various locations across the state.”
Fegan says the EOC PPE staff collect and analyze daily PPE use and inventory data to project long-term purchasing needs, as well as possible short-term supply shortages in the prisons and district offices. A usage rate for each site is established and logistical moves are planned for locations to ensure an adequate supply is always on-site for staff and inmates.
As of November 9, the EOC PPE staff and regional managers had distributed the following to VADOC facilities and offices:
- 17,000 Disposable Gowns
- 6,000 Cloth Gowns
- 8,500 Face Shields
- 6,000 KN95 Masks
- 5,100 N95 Masks
- 294,000 Surgical Masks
- 700,000 Nitrile & Latex Gloves
“By developing a plan at the beginning of the pandemic, the department has effectively optimized its supply of PPE and thus can provide the security staff, medical staff and inmates with the appropriate PPE recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which makes its recommendations based on the potential for exposure to the virus,” said Fegan. “For example, the CDC recommends N95 masks for staff working in specific environments where the risk of exposure to the virus is elevated. The VADOC has designated these areas as “red zones” and we reserve N95 masks for staff working in red zones.”
Based on CDC advice for healthcare institutions, the VADOC uses PPE in a risk stratification including red, yellow and green zones. Red zones are known COVID-19 areas, yellow zones are quarantined areas or busy areas with undifferentiated patients, and green zones are low traffic areas and places with no known COVID-19 cases, no symptomatic offenders and no offender mixing.
The VADOC continues to evaluate PPE use and supplies to ensure the staff and inmates are protected as we continue our critical mission of providing effective incarceration, supervision and evidence-based reentry services to the inmates in our care.