Supply chain issues impact on local health care
For the City Times
WAUSAU – The rapid spread of COVID-19 put a lot of stress on our nation’s health care systems. That stress extended beyond the walls of clinics and hospitals to the global supply chains that provide those facilities with the equipment needed to care for patients.
The biggest concern that faced health care during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic centered on personal protective equipment (PPE).
Fast forward to today and the main supply concerns revolve around testing and treatment of COVID-19 patients. Aspirus has implemented a variety of strategies to stay ahead of this issue.
“One is certainly casting a wide net,” said Aspirus VP & Chief Supply Chain Officer Gary Rakes. “But a lot of it is really the industry is working together. Other health systems are working with us and we’re working with them to provide supplies.”
Reports of panic ordering in anticipation of supply chain issues with the upcoming holiday season are adding to the crisis. However, there are safeguards in effect to protect health care systems from other entities “panic buying.”
“So, we have things like allocations that our manufacturers and distributors put in place where they give a fair share to everyone and they don’t allow any one particular health system to get an overwhelming share of the products that are available,” Rakes said.
Global supply chain issues might affect your holiday shopping, but Aspirus has measures in place to make sure it can provide quality health care to the public.
“We keep a very high level in inventories available just to counteract any sort of supply chain disruptions,” says Rakes. “We’ve invested in inventory over time in order to basically safeguard or have a little bit of guardrail so that we’re not in a position that we’re running completely out of products.”
However, more in-demand medical supplies are needed as more people are hospitalized for long-term care issues associated with COVID-19.
Data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services show significantly higher rates of infection, hospitalization and death among those who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These rates in September 2021 were five times higher for infection, nine times higher for hospitalization and 19 times higher for death.
“Certainly, if everyone could do their part, the goal would be to keep people out of the hospital and then we could make sure that we have the needed supplies to take care of patients that have an urgent need,” said Rakes.
Visit Aspirus.org for more information on COVID-19 vaccinations, booster shots and to schedule a vaccination or booster appointment.