Boxes of PPE seen dumped at landfill; St. Charles explains

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Boxes of unopened PPE were seen dumped at the Knott Landfill this week but St. Charles said much of it was expired and could not be resold or used in health care settings.

A viewer concerned about the situation shared an image of some of the inventory, which had a shipping label addressed to St. Charles in Bend. 

When contacted about the photo Thursday, Public Information Officer Lisa Goodman explained.

“Today a third-party responsible for liquidating this PPE by donation or sales made the decision to discard the PPE after many efforts to place it, including shipping it to developing countries,” she said. 

She said the hospital, like most health systems across the country, ordered whatever PPE was available in early 2020 as a critical shortage emerged. 

“As the supply chain improved, most of the PPE we ordered during the early months of the pandemic was moved to storage provided by a third-party vendor and held onto for emergency use only,” she said. “This PPE included many thousands of N95 masks with exhalation valves, which cannot be reliably used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 per CDC guidelines, as well as other items such as gloves and gowns, which would eventually expire.”

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Last spring the hospital went through the inventory of PPE and determined it was not usable by the hospital, she said. 

They offered it to health care organizations, schools, other countries, construction firms and religious groups that could distribute it to the homeless.

Goodman said St. Charles also consulted with a third-party vendor who determined it could not be resold.

“While we regret this PPE ultimately couldn’t be rehomed, we also feel a strong responsibility to provide our caregivers with the safest and highest quality PPE, both for their protection and our patients,” she said. 

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