If you thought finding PPE was difficult, try finding bedpans or crutches

Delays up and down the supply chain still plague hospitals as economic effects of the pandemic drag on

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals hit supply chain problems as demand for personal protective equipment soared. PPE isn’t the problem now, but as the pandemic drags on, hospitals continue to struggle to buy equipment and supplies.

There aren't enough workers in factories, some ports are still closed, a lack of truck drivers is causing delays, and raw materials are in short supply — and that hurts, says Christine Torres, system vice president and chief supply chain officer of Main Line Health.

It's like playing whack-a-mole every day, trying to put out the supply chain fires to keep their hospitals stocked, Torres said.

"I think that if you go back to the raw materials such as glass, such as plastics, aluminum, and think about all the things that are made with them that are in health care — it's across the board. It could be anything, from crutches to blood tubes to bed pans. It's a little crazy sometimes," Torres said.

And after buying the shipments of bed pans, vials and plastic tubing, hospitals can't always get them when they want them, she said.

"There's also the constraints we're getting with FedEx and UPS,,” she said. “Just because of resources, they can't get us the product. We would order something overnight, we'd get it the next morning by ten. Now we're waiting until 3 o'clock or possibly the next day to get it. So, we have to again figure out how to be proactive and give those lead times so we don't run out of product."

And to make it all worse, she said, inflation is making everything more expensive.