POUGHKEEPSIE – Employees at Vassar Brothers Medical Center (VBMC) have discovered a room containing N-95 masks strung up with clothespins and say the hospital is recycling masks for staff.
On Sunday night, August 16, an ICU nurse opened a storage room door and discovered the masks. She summoned two additional co-workers to view the masks. A picture of the masks, taken by the staffer, was provided to Mid Hudson News on Monday.
Mid Hudson News forwarded the picture to VBMC administrators in an email asking if the hospital was recycling masks to be worn by employees. Hospital spokesman John Nelson responded, saying “We have never used recycled masks at Vassar Brothers Medical Center.” Nelson’s explanation also said “I’m told if the photo was taken here, it would have
been at a time, early in the pandemic, when there was a national shortage of masks and
other personal protective equipment. We were preparing for a possible worst-case scenario, which would have included properly sterilizing and reusing masks.” Nelson stressed the fact that all masks being used by staff at VBMC are issued new. “Fortunately to date, we have always and continue to maintain an adequate supply of new masks to properly protect our patients and staff at Vassar and throughout the Nuvance Health system.”
The employee that took the photograph and the two co-workers declined to provide their names for publication out of fear of retaliation by the hospital administration. The calls placed to Mid Hudson News originated from a phone number associated with VBMC.