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Are supply chain issues impacting hospitals?

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 8:02 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - We’ve heard so much about how supply chain shortages are impacting the retail industry making it harder to find some items we use every day.

But are hospitals being impacted by supply chain issues?

The Vice President of the Supply Chain and Support Services at UAB, Laura Kowalczyk, said the hospital is feeling the supply chain disruptions heavily, but they’re doing everything they can to ensure they have what they need to care for patients.

Kowalczyk said shipping delays have been the biggest inconvenience for the hospital system.

“Everything you hear of, container ships, the port congestion, the physical resources to unload the material at the ports. Definitely we feel that. But we are also feeling a marked impacted on raw material across the world. And that is having an additional impact on the medical healthcare supply chain, Kowalczyk said.

That impact is resulting in some severe supply constraints on some everyday products used at the hospital.

“Everyday products like blood tubes, and urine specimen kits, and you’ve got different types of tubing, so those types of materials,” Kowalczyk explained.

UAB is managing the problem by buying in bulk when they can and looking to other suppliers.

“So, we’ve done some of that where we’ve said…you know… we can’t get this glove, but we can get this one, and we feel far more comfortable that we will have a steady supply, can we convert?” Kowalczyk said.

But if there’s a silver lining to the pandemic, Kowalczyk said it’s that it’s forced the hospital system to look at how they’re using products and considering ways to cut back.

“We already see some relief in some of those hard-to-get supplies right now just by conserving, just by being mindful of test ordering things of that nature. We have to take a multidisciplinary approach to depending on what the supply is, but I would tell you at this point, we are managing it. We’re pretty adept at moving in the directions we need to to assure that our patients are taken care of, and our clinicians have what they need to do their work,” Kowalczyk said.

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