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Media Coverage: Hurricane Shortages

IV Bags, Prescription Drugs Harder To Come By; Hosptials React For Quality Patient Care

Hurricane season was extremely tough for the people of Puerto Rico. But the impact of those hurricane hits is being felt months later here at home.  Along with the damage to homes, manufacturing plants knocked offline in Puerto Rico are currently leading to medical equipment and prescription drug shortages in central Ohio.

“I can tell you I have been in this business nearly 40 years and this is really unprecedented! I have not seen a confluence of circumstances like we are seeing right now, and that is causing us to take a step back and really rethink what we are doing here,” Curt Passafume Jr., VP Pharmacy Services at OhioHealth told NBC4.

Because of the shortages, and supply in the pipeline from Puerto Rico drying up, health systems like OhioHealth have gone into aggressive shortage mode.  They have also evaluated how to treat each patient when they come through the doors at an emergency room. For those with immediate problems that require instant hydration, they will still get the same IV with a saline bag. For those that might be able to have fluids and medications pushed to them a different way, they won't immediately get an IV.

“The way we deliver it might change and how we take care of it might change, but at the end of the day, we’re still doing the same thing for our patients,” said Passafume to ABC6.

There are signs that some of the manufacturing has started to pick up again in Puerto Rico, but it could take a few more months before that pipeline starts to make up the shortages. Of course, with a high volume flu season in full swing, Passafume says there is no short-cut for good quality care. He believes anticipating a shortage has them now in great position to be flexible with supplies, and strong in care.  And in the end, Passfume says this might turn out to be a great learning experience, and allow hospitals to plan and be ready in case something like this were to happen again.

"I believe we have to learn something from this experience, then go back as a team and say, are there things we put in place that maybe we should carry over because it makes sense," Passafume said.

To see the stories from NBC4, ABC6, or the Columbus Dispatch, simply click the outlet's logo below.