Views: 0 Author: Site Editor Publish Time: 2022-06-16 Origin: Site
Port gridlock is the latest chapter in a long saga of medical supply chain disruptions during the pandemic. Demand for personal protective equipment and respirators skyrocketed globally at the same time that overseas manufacturers temporarily closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among workers. Last winter, hospitals desperate for bed space were sending less-severe COVID-19 patients home on supplemental oxygen. “We couldn’t keep oxygen concentrators on the wall, couldn’t keep them in inventory,” said Terry Racciato, who owns a durable medical equipment supply company in San Diego. “The shipping backlog prevented them from getting into the country, much less getting to patients that need them.” Now, specialized equipment like walkers, canes, wheelchairs, crutches, syringes, needles, catheters, surgical gloves, feeding tubes and suction canisters are increasingly hard to come by. In September, the FDA announced nationwide shortages of ventilators. Specimen collection tubes also have been in short supply since the summer. Compounding the issue, hospitals, which are admitting above-average numbers of patients who delayed care during the pandemic, are trying to stay ahead of any potential winter COVID-19 surge. “With increased patient volume and supply logistic issues, we are concerned with the constraints placed on supply availability,” said Amy Ritzel, a spokesperson for Prime Healthcare, which operates hospitals throughout the state. Prime Healthcare has been able to shift supplies as needed between its hospitals, but has joined other health systems and the California Chamber of Commerce in requesting help from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature to speed up movement of medical goods. “We have a number of hospitals and health care suppliers saying ‘Hey we’ve got products sitting out there.’ So they’re pretty concerned about that issue in particular,” said Leah Silverthorn, policy advocate for CalChamber, which sent the letter to Newsom and the Legislature. Increased purchasing of all consumer goods coupled with labor shortages, outdated port infrastructure, and prior disruptions to shipping and manufacturing early in the pandemic have culminated in the offshore traffic jam.
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