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Twitter photo shows doctor at Long Island Community Hospital in makeshift equipment

Dr. Mark Gudesblatt, a neurologist who practices in

Dr. Mark Gudesblatt, a neurologist who practices in Islip and Patchogue, depicting makeshift personal protective equipment he wore Friday, March 27, 2020 during consults at Long Island Community Hospital in Patchogue. Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Mark Gudesblatt

Dr. Mark Gudesblatt, a private practice neurologist, reported Friday to Long Island Community Hospital in Patchogue with his own solution to the coronavirus protective equipment shortage.

Gudesblatt supplemented his own N95 respirator mask with a plastic bag over his hair and the plastic lid from a takeout meal (stapled to a headband) over his face. 

He wore the makeshift protection during consultations with two intensive care patients — including one confirmed to have the virus.

It was part necessity. As a doctor unaffiliated with the 306-bed hospital, or any other regional hospital network, he doesn’t have easy access to the full-face masks, gowns and coverings that are already in short supply for actual hospital employees everywhere.

“At least it’s a plastic barrier,” Gudesblatt said of the Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace lid, labeled “Dinner for Two, Spaghetti w/ Meatball.”

But it was also to make a larger point. The doctor sent photos of himself in the substitute gear to his daughter, Meredith, who posted them to Twitter, commenting: “Not enough personal protective equipment for nurses/nurse assistants/physicians.”

The tweet went viral, touching a nerve amid a nationwide medical supply crisis brought on by the global pandemic.

“There’s a lot of us out here kind of left out to dry,” Mark Gudesblatt said in an interview Friday. “But even for people working in the health systems, supplies are ragged.”

He added that he wasn’t blaming leadership at Long Island Community Hospital or any other: “I’m not criticizing administration because they’re blindsided.”

Katherine Heaviside, a Long Island Community spokeswoman, said Friday that the hospital distributes and uses its supply of personal protective equipment per federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocol. She added that the hospital was seeking to acquire more equipment with help from state and county officials.

“It’s unprecedented territory,” Heaviside said.

Gudesblatt, who leads the multiple sclerosis care center at South Shore Neurologic Associates, with offices in Patchogue and Islip, said he wore the plastic lid and bag during his intensive care consultations at Long Island Community Friday, but not to others in the general wing of the hospital.

A nurse inside the coronavirus patient’s room with Gudesblatt was wearing a full plastic face shield along with a surgical mask, gown and gloves, he said.

“The staff’s faces, they’re ground down. The ER doctors’ faces are ground by the ongoing anxiety,” he said, speaking generally of what he’s seeing at all facilities. “The staff is constantly on edge.”

To ease the tension, Gudesblatt said he often tries to lighten the mood — part of the reason for his homemade protective gear choice.

“It’s a big morale thing,” he said. “They say, ‘you say it as it is,’ thank God that you continue to make us laugh and point this out.”

After speaking to a reporter Friday, Gudesblatt sent another photo that he had previously sent his daughter. It showed him in a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, holding a bottle of hand sanitizer with a custom label that — in colorful language — urged proper hygiene.

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