When Hurricane Maria hit in 2017, one unexpected challenge faced by the Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) Sector was maintaining production of medical gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, and argon on the island of Puerto Rico. The power needs for such an operation exceeded available generators; so, for the duration of electricity outages in the area, novel plans had to be devised for the challenging transport and distribution of products across the island.
Partners from the gas manufacturers, healthcare facilities, and the federal and territorial government closely coordinated to make decisions that would ensure patients in hospitals, oxygen-dependent patients in their homes, and manufacturers of critical medical devices, received the gases they needed. By working together, the government and private sector identified and communicated issues. As a result, disruptions of service were prevented.
If you or your facility are made aware of a drug or medical product shortage through manufacturers, distributors, the
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, or CIP’s supply chain newsletter, who do you call for help? Where can you find additional guidance on how to manage the situation?
Drug and medical supply shortages can happen at any time, and they can occur with very little warning due to disasters. Take some time during steady state to identify federal and private sector points of contact and build relationships you can rely on in an emergency. Make sure that these four entities are part of your network:
Tap into these existing resources for building partnerships before a major shortage critically impacts your facility. Having the right partner in place can be the difference between scrambling to respond and managing shortages successfully.
The ‘Anticipating and Managing the Challenges Associated with Supply Shortages’ blog series is designed to highlight actions that healthcare organizations can take to protect patient health in the event of a supply shortage. To learn more, check out the first two posts in this series: ‘Four Ways to Plan to Protect Patient Health in a Medical Supply Shortage’ and ‘Exhaustion in the ED and Beyond: Managing Supply Shortages and Staff Fatigue in Healthcare Facilities’. The next post in this series will look at recommendations and resources for building partnerships. Stay up to date as new blog posts are published by following us on