In July, Social Security recalls disposable masks bought during the pandemic.
 - A.M. Costa Rica wire services illustrative photo.

Published Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Congress opens investigation on
process of purchasing sanitary masks

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Deputies of the Commission of Income and Public Expenses, of the Congress, approved a motion to open an investigation on the processes taken for the purchase and agreements carried out by Social Security, concerning the acquisition of masks and protective supplies for the health workers of the institution.

According to the brief information provided by Congress, as part of the investigation, the following Social Security workers will be summoned to a hearing:

• Román Macaya-Hayes, President.

• Luis Fernando Porras, Logistics Manager.

• Hans Vindas -Cerdas, Legal Advisor.

• Olger Fernández- Carrillo, Internal Auditor.

• Soraya Solano- Acuña, Technical Commission.

• Nidia Medrano -Durán, Technical Commission.

• Esteban Corrales -Vega, Technical Commission.

Two more people will be called to the hearing, David Landergren -Castro, and Miren Martínez- Ruíz.

According to Congressman Roberto Thompson, one of the institutions most affected by the crisis is unquestionably Social Security. Important efforts have been made by the Legislative Assembly (Congress) to be able to provide additional financial resources in the face of the complicated situation that the entity is experiencing from a financial point of view and that it continues to face during this emergency to the pandemic.

"This motion is suitable to investigate and get to the bottom of what has been denounced in the press and that affects, not only the trust but how the institution's reserves should be managed," Thompson said.

Also, the deputy Jonathan Prendas said that there is a complaint about how doctors are being unprotected as a result of a very bad purchase. Investigators must look into the requirements needed to safely protect people on the front lines of this emergency.

Congress is expected to announce the hearing date, during this week.

In July, Social Security recalls disposable masks bought during the pandemic, where the organization began a process of recovering disposable surgical masks that were handed over to the health workers.

According to the authorities, the masks that must be returned were purchased in the lot 20200428-001, which must be changed by the supplier in the event of a possible labeling error in its packaging.

The request for the return of the masks was made to all the health units in the country that have supplies from that lot. A material error was identified in the inspection of the packaging box labeling, said Luis Fernando Porras -Meléndez, a Logistics Manager of Social Security.

According to Porras, "the purchase was correct, the product met the safety and protection requirement."

This purchase was made on an emergency basis. However, Social Security does not provide the name of the company that sold the masks.

The people in charge of reviewing the products and managing the purchases are nursing professionals from different medical centers with extensive experience, who carried out the review focused on the quality of the samples, Social Security said.

Specialists verified the international certifications before the purchase. This consisted of testing permeability, functionality, seal and then verify the three layers of filtration.

The material error, which does not change the quality of the product, occurs when inspecting the labeling of the box where it indicated, “no medical.”

In other words, it is presumed that the label for the masks was incorrect or the items are not for use by workers in the medical field.

According to the authorities, the masks were received at the Social Security warehouses on June 30 and immediately distributed to health workers. Social Security was responding to the need to supply medical centers with this essential equipment.

According to Porras, the administrative steps have already been taken with the supplier company to get the correct masks.

Social Security has purchased and distributed among health workers more than 30 million units of personal protective equipment in the last 6 months as part of the emergency plan during the covid-19 pandemic facing the country, Porras said.

Social Security did not disclose how many masks must be returned to the provider company.

Should Congress speed-up the investigation due to the seriousness of the case?  
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