Coronavirus: Upstate hospitals taking extraordinary measures to manage dwindling supplies
Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System has challenged the community to help it find face masks and other dwindling protective equipment for its health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
It's one of the health care systems around the Upstate that are using a variety of ways to resupply to meet increasing demand. None of the hospital systems would say how many days supply they have.
- AnMed Health in Anderson is asking companies to donate N-95 masks and face shields, which are in short supply.
- Prisma Health said it is going directly to manufacturers instead of distributors for supplies.
- Bon Secours St. Francis Health System said it is resourcing from around the globe.
- MUSC opened a location where people can drop
AnMed said that because the situation is so fluid, it's hard to determine how many days their supplies will last.
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"As of now, we have enough PPE (personal protective equipment) to meet the current needs," said spokeswoman Lizz Walker.
"But we know as testing increases and the number of positive test results rises, we'll continue to have needs," she added. "We are still inventorying the donations, therefore it isn't possible to attach a time-frame on the supplies."
Prisma declined to say how many days of supplies it had, but issued a statement via email.
"At this time, Prisma Health has the appropriate supplies related to responding to COVID-19, including personal protective equipment (PPE) for our team members and physicians," it read. "We are managing the use of our supplies in order to care for all our patients, including those being treated for COVID-19. Hospitals across the country are experiencing shortages of certain items at different times."
Prisma has been able to manage its supplies well through our regular allocations, existing and new vendor relationships, and conservation measures, the hospital said.
"As the COVID-19 health concern continues, our team will follow our contingency plans to help ensure we have the supplies we need to serve the community," the statement read. "We also are using technology, such as predictive data modeling tools, to identify what our needs will be as a surge of patients develops. The anticipated patient surge will cause our supplies to deplete at a faster rate."
St. Francis and Spartanburg Regional did not respond to questions about how long their supplies would last.
Meanwhile, Spartanburg Regional got 10,000 masks from its community challenge so far, spokeswoman Jessica Pickens said.
Gov. Henry McMaster has asked construction contractors and the skilled trades to donate any personal protective equipment they can spare — including respirator masks used in construction settings.
And the head of the American Medical Association says vulnerable health care workers are at risk without more help, calling the shortage of personal protective equipment "unacceptable."
“As physicians, nurses and the medical community respond heroically to the intensifying COVID-19 outbreak across the U.S., their ability to care for patients in desperate need is being hampered by woefully inadequate supplies of even the most basic equipment and protective gear,” AMA president Dr. Patrice A. Harris said in an op-ed in Modern Healthcare.
“Physicians on the front lines are pleading for more masks, gowns and gloves to help protect themselves and their families in the face of this growing health emergency,” she continued. “We're hearing from physicians that the existing supplies are so depleted that they may only last a matter of days or weeks in many care facilities. Physicians are reusing masks, sewing masks at home, and being told to use bandanas."
Everywhere, public officials are asking for help.
The Governor of Illinois even launched a website Monday to ask for donations of personal protective equipment.
While Spartanburg Regional has a reserve of protective equipment, demand has spiked since the pandemic began, officials said, leaving them to worry how long the supply will last.
So far, the hospital’s challenge has yielded supplies from Bullington Associates, Converse College, Milliken & Co., Tietex International, Spartanburg Methodist College, and Spartanburg School Districts 1, 2, 5 and 7.
“We are living in unprecedented times, but we are so fortunate to live in a community that cares and supports each other,” Spartanburg Regional CEO Bruce Holstien said.
“Even though these institutions are dealing with their own challenges, they stepped up to support our doctors, nurses and other front line caregivers,” he said. “This equipment will directly support patient care in the weeks and months ahead.”
AnMed Health is a nonprofit and while donations may be tax deductible, they will certainly be greatly appreciated, Walker said.
"We are asking that if a company has an inventory of these specific items or other PPE (personal protective equipment) and is willing to donate or sell those items to AnMed Health," she said, "we are willing to discuss further."
Bon Secours St. Francis Health System said it is resourcing from around the globe, working collaboratively with other health care and government agencies and following CDC guidelines on appropriate usage.
And it’s not just hospitals.
ARCpoint Labs, a national test collection company based in Greenville with two locations in the Upstate, largely does workplace drug screens. But as demand for COVID-19 testing grows, the company says it’s working with state officials and preparing to take samples.
But like health care workers everywhere, the company also needs face masks for the staff doing the offsite swabs, he said. The test tubes to store and ship the collected samples are also in short supply.
If the company had the protective equipment, its Greenville lab could begin collecting between 150-300 samples a day, said Byron Berry, president of ARCpoint Labs of Greenville and Anderson.
“The materials that we need is the only thing standing in the way,” he said. “We could mobilize quickly to get it done.”
Staff writer Conor Hughes contributed to this story.
WANT TO HELP?
Organizations interested in participating in Spartanburg Regional’s challenge should send an email to COVID19@srhs.com.
Anyone interested in donating to AnMed Health should be directed to Nancy Duffy, Director of Supply Chain, at email@example.com or (864) 512-1170.
Those wishing to donate masks as a result of the Governor’s request can contact Mary Louise Resch of Habitat for Humanity for logistical coordination via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff Writer Conor Hughes contributed to this story.
Liv Osby is the health writer at The Greenville News. She can be reached at email@example.com, 864-298-4422 or @livgnews.