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How COVID-19 broke the supply chain

by Valerie Dimond, Contributing Reporter | June 10, 2020
From the May 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

One of the main challenges facing hospitals right now is obtaining the necessary swabs to conduct the tests. One of the world’s leading manufacturers of the swabs, Copan, is based in Italy, one of the earliest and hardest-hit countries, which Mina said has put a strain on production. On top of that, major laboratories are flooded and overwhelmed with processing the samples they do receive.

While the U.S. does have a national stockpile of PPE and other medical equipment and supplies, including ventilators, Mina says it’s not nearly enough to supply the nation on a continuous basis. “What this is really demonstrating from a preparedness position, is that we don’t have these types of manufacturing operations sitting idly by.”

In the meantime, experts are fast at work trying to figure out if and how masks can be sanitized for safe, repeated use. “There are things like ozone and different gas sanitization processes,” Mina said. “Research groups are working on it right now.” In situations where shortages are extremely severe, recycling masks, letting them sit for two or three weeks before reuse, might be a solution because scientists believe the virus dies completely after 10 to 15 days.

Schiller added, “Supply chain is uniquely positioned, in that our role engages with both our internal constituents and external business relationships. We are able to identify opportunities and match resources with need as a result of these relationships. Collaborating with partners, including suppliers, distributors, GPOs, and Health IT — understanding current or expected product shortages and allocations, identifying and implementing conservation measures, and working with their state and local emergency management agencies.

“Look to nontraditional healthcare suppliers including veterinary clinics, dental clinics, and the construction/trade industry,” continued Schiller. “We strongly recommend healthcare organizations visit the CDC COVID-19 website, FDA website, and Joint Commission website where you’ll find strategies on how to optimize the supply of PPE. AHRMM has developed and offers a comprehensive COVID-19 resource page that is available to members and non-members alike.”

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