Local health care providers feeling effects of supply chain strain

DELMARVA – The medical industry is feeling the strain when it comes to getting much needed supplies into their facilities.

“There have been times where you just sit for eight or nine hours a day looking for supplies from anywhere you can get them,” said Director of Materials Management for Atlantic General Hospital Janice Geiger.

Those effects don’t stop at local health care facilities. “The main thing we have right now is plastics. The problem is, local hospitals always share with each other. But nobody can do that now because we’re all in the same boat,” said Geiger.

Not only are the actual medical supplies hard to get a hold of, prices are also seeing a spike.

“You’re paying higher freight costs, contract prices are going up on everything. The best thing we can do right now is just try to maintain, and make sure that our staff – who work so hard – has all the supplies they need,” said Geiger.

Smaller private practices are also struggling to get the vital supplies they need. “We’ve sent orders to supply companies, but now we’re coming back saying it could take as long as nine weeks from when I submit the order to when we would have the supply available, to then dispense out to patients,” said owner of the Pearl Clinic Dr. Sherin Howett.

In addition to being a general practitioner, Dr. Howett is also a sleep specialist. She says her patients are having to wait months to get things like CPAP machines.

“It’s obviously a big issue when you’ve got a huge demand and you don’t have the supply to meet it. It does end up leaving people, really, between a rock and a hard place,” said Dr. Howett.

Dr. Howett says a recall on some of those machines earlier this summer, on top of a computer chip shortage, and the choked supply chain are making for a complicated and difficult situation.

“We keep touching base and communicating, and trying to give people a realistic time frame of maybe when they can expect to get something, or if there’s maybe something else that we can offer in the meantime. Then we try to discuss alternative options, even if it’s just temporarily,” said Dr. Howett.

So, she and other health care providers are working to find creative solutions.

“I can’t make machines. I can’t physically find them to get them into people’s hands,” said Dr. Howett. “We’ve been able to get them refurbished, sanitized 100% authorized, and then been able to put them in other people’s hands.”

At Atlantic General Hospital, Geiger says they’re also thinking outside the box.

“Our distributor actually cannot get some of the supplies. Some of the companies will not ship supplies to them. You actually have to go to the manufacturer and get it from them,” she said.

Private practice or hospital, health care providers say the ultimate goal is to make sure their quality of care stays at its peak.

“All hospitals, all nursing homes, everybody is trying to get what they need for their patients and their community. Bottom line is, I think, we are doing everything we can do to make that happen,” said Geiger.

Categories: Delaware, Health, Local News, Maryland