Medical supply shortages, driven by hurricanes, affecting hospitals in central Ohio

Local News

DUBLIN, OH (WCMH) — Even before Hurricanes Irma and Maria bore down on Puerto Rico, medical supply shortages were affecting hospitals.

The hurricanes are compounding the medical supply shortages and are forcing hospitals to look for other sources for supplies and drugs. They are also reassessing how best to deal with patients coming in for needed care.

NBC4’s Rick Reitzel spoke with an expert at OhioHealth’s Dublin Methodist Hospital.

Instead of waiting for the medical supply shortages to impact their hospitals, Vice President Kurt Passafume Jr. said they have taken a proactive approach.

“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,” said Passafume, Director of Pharmacy Services at OhioHealth.

He said both hurricanes and market factors beginning in 2014 have made shortages of supplies like IV bags.

OhioHealth and other hospitals across the nation experienced raw material shortages like large IV shortage.

“50 to 100 ML bags that we dock antibiotics into, those have pretty much disappeared from the market place,” Passafume said.

Other shortages include insulin pumps, pre-op antibiotics and injectable pain medications.

“Things like dilated, morphine or fentanyl,” he said.

But Passafume cautions patients not to worry, because he said those pain medications are being replaced with alternatives.

“Now instead of using one product, now that has gone short now we use a combination of a couple of ones that help give that same pain control,” he said.

“We have been working on true medication shortages easily over the last five to eight years,” he said. That is due to patents’ market dynamics, investment costs, the way drugs are approved. He said all underlie the medical supply shortages.

“We are learning a lot about where medical supplies originate. . . …The first hurricane was destructive, the second one shuts down all the infrastructure. What we found out during that time period we really didn’t know what drugs are made where by pharmaceutical drug manufactures is pretty much an industry secret,” Passafume said.

By planning ahead he said OhioHealth has been able to stay out in front of the shortages.

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