The military department previously had notified Health Care Authority (HCA) that it could aid in the statewide distribution of face masks for use as personal protective equipment (PPE). Through this effort, HCA’s different divisions communicated with their partnering health organization located throughout Washington, and a list of 178 entities, including several situated within the GCACH, were identified as needing masks. The ACHs were provided this list of entities and their mask requests and the different ACHs then put in their own requests for additional face masks. HCA asked that masks be distributed to entities that have a need not being served or met through other distributors. Further, ACHs were asked to coordinate with other mask-distributing entities in their communities, such as local health jurisdictions, as was feasible.
On August 5, 2020, GCACH received about 842,000 face masks. The masks (a mixture of KN95 and cloth types) were bundled into 28 pallets and delivered to the Franklin County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Pasco. With that delivery, the GCACH instantly became part of the PPE supply chain for its nine-county region in southeast Washington. The use of face masks, along with physical distancing and hand washing, are essential practices in slowing the spread of COVID-19. There was not much time to deliberate about how to distribute this shipment; Franklin EOC is a busy hub and the mask shipment was given storage space there throughout only August. GCACH sprang into action and made use of its broad network of organizations and collaborations to identify those most in need.
Some organizations, such as Tri-Cities Community Health, picked up masks directly from the EOC. However, the vast majority of pallets were distributed directly by the GCACH using its staff and rented trucks. Deliveries were made to Dayton, Ellensburg, Granger, Pullman, Toppenish, Walla Walla and Yakima. Organizations receiving pallets and making further distributions to local agencies and individuals include: Benton-Franklin Transit, Columbia County Health Department, Pullman Regional Hospital, KDNA, Columbia Basin Health Association, Hospice Friends, Walla Walla County Department of Community Health, United Way, Yakima Valley Community Foundation, Benton-Franklin Community Health Alliance, and the Yakama Nation. By August 21, 2020 all 842,000 masks had been distributed. GCACH greatly appreciates the help and support of Sean Davis with Franklin County Emergency Management.