Vaccines are available. Hope is on the horizon. But what does that mean for "getting back to normal?" And is "normal" a good thing to get back to?
All the problems that the pandemic exacerbated will remain once it becomes manageable again. And it created all sorts of supply chain problems of its own.
Take, for example, the pileup of medical supplies in areas where an overwhelming caseload never arrived. Masks - despite what clinicians might think based on the amount of stretching that reuse rules underwent in the last year - expire.
And that unused, expired inventory piles up to create a problem that hits hospitals' budget and dumpsters in equally devastating ways. See this week's five articles worth reading for exactly how...
- A compilation of several medical supply usage studies determined that waste produced by healthcare providers in the United States puts them within the top 15 greenhouse gas producers on the planet*.
- The cost of healthcare supply chain waste is high not only in dollars, but in the adverse effects on each hospital's community.
- Of course, healthcare workers in every department are part of that community. That makes moves like providing bonuses to vaccinated employees a good investment in the hospital itself, especially as variants like the one emerging from our home state of Texas provide new threats.
- As the status of the pandemic changes due to a variety of factors - two steps forward with the reintroduction of the J&J vaccine followed by one step back like the invalidation of the 6-foot rule - supply levels will need to react accordingly.
- For example: Vermont state stockpiles of supplies are increasingly looking like excess. What's the solution? (We actually have the exact answer.)
*The way that these studies determined that hospitals waste 2 million pounds of supplies annually actually underestimates the total, according to data Z5 Inventory has compiled from thousands of inventory analyses at facilities nationwide.
Keep your eye on this space for more on that in the coming weeks.