Local Health Care Systems Struggle With Shortages Of Drugs, Supplies Made In Puerto Rico
TULSA, Oklahoma - It's been over a month since Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, causing the longest blackout in American History.
As most of the island remains in the dark, hospitals are scrambling because the storm shut down production at factories that make critical drugs and medical supplies.
Tuesday, the American Hospital Association sent a letter to the FDA, urging quick action on the worsening IV shortages.
For now, health care systems here in Tulsa, like Hillcrest, are adapting to provide quality care.
Scott Hughes says small-volume intravenous fluids IVs are a critical piece of health care.
"We use these every day on practically every patient,” said Hughes. “Almost anyone that comes in is going to need either an antibiotic or electrolyte."
But the primary provider for Hillcrest, Baxter, is still running on limited production after Hurricane Maria damaged the manufacturing sites in Puerto Rico September.
"We had to change the whole process and then educate 2,000 with a real short period of time to make a drastic change,” said Hughes.
Hughes says nurses changed the way they deliver a lot of antibiotics.
Hillcrest isn't the only hospital impacted here in Tulsa. OSU Medical Center says it was prepared for a possible lag in production and the staff has made changes to their normal workflow.
"Right now, we're just trying to get whatever we can from whichever company can produce it," Hughes stated.
Baxter couldn't comment on when full production will resume at its hurricane-ravaged factories.
“We've had this sort of rolling drug shortage issue over the course of the last five years,” said Hughes. “We've kind of learned to adapt.”