Hospitals facing medicine shortage because of Hurricane Maria

Hospitals facing medicine shortage because of Hurricane Maria

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - While Puerto Rico still is largely without power and water the impact of Hurricane Maria resonates to hospitals across the country, including here in our area. Local hospitals are handling a medicine shortage because of the category four storm.

In essence, it's just saline solution or salt water, but realistically that solution is used to give patients in hospitals across the county fluids and medicine.

One of the largest producers of these "mini-bags" as they are called is in hurricane devastated Puerto Rico, causing a temporary shortage.

"There was impact on the plant itself, also on the fact that they could only run a shift at a time," said Phil Nelson, pharmacy director for Mercy Health St. Vincent. "I don't know how much of that product was shipped out before the hurricane hit the island, but again the reverberations were really huge across the county."

Mercy Health Toledo Region has about 1,500- 2,000 mini-bags in their inventory. On a typical day they can use anywhere from 200-300 bags, but now they have to cut back. They already have implemented a strategy to conserve the solution and offer alternative medicine, while making sure patient care is exemplary.

"I don't anticipate any major impact at this time on patient care because again we have alternative strategies," said Nelson. "We're able to be pretty nimble and switch over to something that is just as effective."

The hospital is working with the FDA and other manufacturers who have ramped up their production to fill the void, but the cost has increased for the hospital. Leaders say they expect the shortage to continue to be a challenge for the next several months, but they will do their best to handle it and make sure patients never notice a change in their care.

"We've already sent out education to our nursing and physician staff so we're really ready to go and implement the strategy," said Nelson.

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