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How health systems are responding as COVID-19 squeezes the medical supply chain

March 25, 2020 / Deborah Abrams Kaplan

The challenges in the coronavirus medical supply chain are now so familiar that the general public knows about personal protective equipment (PPE), N95 respirators and testing kits logistics. Consumers are even asked to fill supply gaps – with some hospitals requesting donations of spare N95 respirators from consumers' attics and garages, or donations of homemade masks. Executive Director of Logistics at Indiana University Health (IU Health) Derrick L. Williams said his team jumped into action mid-January when it saw China's growing infection rates. "We automatically looked at it like Ebola, and said 'let's go ahead and put everybody on allocation now,'" he told Supply Chain Dive. IU Health set up Incident Command Systems at its 17 hospitals, to allocate the normal amount of critical supplies on the list. Instead of hospital employees continuing to pull wanted supplies, they had to request items outside of their normal usage, if they were on the allocation list. As spikes in demand for certain supplies went up, they were added to the list, which currently contains 32 items, including respirators, gloves, face shields and isolation gowns. "We control all of those manually because of this outbreak," Williams said.