TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - A saline shortage has hospitals scrambling just as the flu season hits.
Locally, ProMedica saw it coming and made appropriate plans.
The shortage of the intravenous bags of saline has been going on since 2014. However, the supply virtually disappeared last fall when a hurricane damaged the United States biggest supplier in Puerto Rico.
The company got power back at its plant in late December after weeks of outages.
However, health care systems like ProMedica are still having to use creative solutions until their saline inventory is back to 100 percent.
"There were some medications that we could deliver in a syringe and do an IV push instead of a bag so we've got that done," ProMedica's Associate Chief Nursing Officer Paula Grieb explained. "Got five, six, seven antibiotics into a syringe push instead of a small bag."
In October, ProMedica formed work groups to address the saline shortage.
Other measures were put in place, such as administering antibiotics orally instead of through an IV. These changes were potentially lifesaving ideas considering the unexpected surge in local flu cases.
"We know this is something that's not going to be fixed overnight," Ms. Grieb said. "So, we continue to be cautious about the ways we use our supplies. This is happening across the country and every hospital and health system in the United States."
Ms. Grieb also said she is hearing it could be four to six months before the saline shortage ends.