Cortland Regional Medical Center has had to change how it distributes medication to patients because of a nationwide shortage of fluids used to deliver medicine and treat dehydrated patients, but hopes that will change soon.
The supplies, which go to most, if not all, hospitals in the United States, come from factories in Puerto Rico, which sustained heavy damage four months ago from Hurricane Maria, which killed 499 in Puerto Rico and 547 total. The factories have been without power and unable to get the fluids out to the hospitals.
Mark Webster, president of the Cortland Regional Medical Center, said it has been a challenging past few months for the hospital, dealing with the shortage of fluids. In response, the hospital had to use different medications for patients or different amounts of the fluids.
The staff went through meetings on how to properly use the different medications to prevent any medical issues with the patient, Webster said.
“We spent a lot of time figuring out the new medications,” he said.
Hospitals would share extra medications, too, he said.
He added he’s heard there have been some medical manufacturers in Puerto Rico whose power has been restored. He thinks the hospital will resume receiving regular shipments of medications shortly.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said earlier this month it believes shortages will start to ease over the next few weeks, but stressed “the production situation in Puerto Rico remains fragile.”
Puerto Rico’s power grid is being slowly restored and the last of three Baxter International factories there that make bags of saline and nutrient solutions was reconnected just before Christmas, according to a report last week by the Associated Press. But intermittent power outages are still slowing Baxter’s efforts to get back to full production.
With so many hospitals affected by the shortage, Webster said the situation speaks to the vulnerability of hospital supply lines.
“We have to diversify in that,” Webster said of hospitals nationwide. “We can’t put all of our eggs in one basket.”