Providence Health & Services confirmed that their St. Peter and Centralia hospitals — which care for the bulk of Lewis County’s severe COVID-19 cases — were impacted by counterfeit N95 respirators that were circulated throughout the state and country.
The Washington State Hospital Association estimated that about 2 million masks believed to be manufactured by 3M were actually counterfeits and made their way into hospitals throughout Washington.
It’s unclear how effectively the masks protected users from COVID-19.
According to Chris Thomas, a Providence regional spokesman, the hospitals received about 10,000 counterfeit masks, which were “immediately located and removed from service” when officials became aware of the issue.
“Thankfully, the use of this supply was limited, and we retrieved more than 8,200 of them,” he said.
In Southwest Washington, Thomas said Providence goes through about 450 N95 masks per day. Taking the masks out of circulation will not threaten the hospitals’ supply of personal protective equipment.
Health care workers who used the masks are also being given the option to connect with the hospitals’ Caregiver Health team.
The hospitals are also “enhancing authentication strategies to ensure products procured outside of normal channels are thoroughly vetted and reviewed.”