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Medical supplies in short supply due to Hurricane Maria

Posted: 10:46 PM, Jan 04, 2018
Updated: 2018-01-05 07:30:41-05

As we enter the new year and pass the 100-day mark from when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, the devastation the hurricane left behind is still causing problems nationally and locally. 

On Thursday, Papillion Fire Department says it received a memo from a medical supplier notifying them the shortage of important medical supplies continues, and will continue for months.

"Certainly not for the people of Puerto Rico, but for us the hurricane is old news and now it's becoming fresh again," says Papillion Fire Chief Bill Bowes.

Since Saline and certain drugs are largely or entirely made on the island, health care providers and hospitals are seeing an extreme shortage in medical products which could affect the way they provide treatment.

"The supplies that are low are IV solutions, IV tubing and syringes and certain drugs," said Bowes. 
The three largest IV bag manufacturer plants in Puerto Rico are trying to catch up with demand. Baxter International lost power after the hurricane at its three plants on the island and was forced to run on generators. The company recently announced before the holidays it was back on the power grid. Meanwhile, B-Braun Medical was reportedly supplying leaky and moldy bags, and ICU Medical is unable to keep up with the increased demand. 

"Everyone from Los Angeles, Chicago, New York to Papillion is going to the effects of that," added Bowes.

Suppliers are sending customers memos notifying customers orders they've made will likely not be filled in 2018's first quarter, and orders may be canceled or reduced based on available inventory. 
Bowes says they have enough inventory for the immediate future but will need to be more frugal in the manner in which they use materials.

"We've got a really good network in the fire departments locally that we're going to  help each other out when that times comes if needed," said Bowes.

Nebraska Medicine and Methodist Hospital are experiencing the same problem and have been for weeks.

The FDA says although companies have recently reported to them that production is slowly getting back on track, production on the island remains fragile. The FDA added it's committed to improve medical supplies shortage.