Public health issues are always tricky to tackle, because the people who are supposed to be tackling them are just as likely to be affected as they people they're trying to keep healthy. This is true for issues like overworking, unhealthy diets, and financial instability leading to heart disease and other health problems. And it's true for communicable disease.
With an infectious disease (this is normally where we'd say "cough, cough," but given the last year-plus, that phrase suddenly feels a lot different, doesn't it?), healthcare workers are often more at risk because they're more regularly exposed than the regular person.
This is obvious, right? We're not exactly breaking new ground compared to what others have been saying all along, or even what we've said before.
So this week's news might seem like it's not breaking new ground either, but we promise that none of this is a repeat. It just so happens that things seem familiar because we're repeating the same mistakes we've made before, so we're seeing the same problems crop up as a result.
- Cases are spiking again. Thanks to the delta variant and a relaxation of restrictions across the country, some hospitals are once again seeing such high COVID-19 caseloads that it has interfered with their ability to perform elective procedures.
- And this might come as a huge shock (that's sarcasm, which probably doesn't help), but areas with lower vaccination rates have higher coronavirus case numbers. What might actually surprise you (especially after the shortages and delays in late 2020 and early 2021) is that millions of vaccines are going to expire before they can be used.
- Due to illness, the risks of working in a healthcare environment, and other factors, the healthcare worker staffing shortage continues to worsen (and looks like it's going to get worse, rather than better). Hence some providers resorting to hiring bonuses for nurses and those who help recruit them.
- But as healthcare supply chain pros, we don't just have to worry about healthcare. We have to worry about supply chain. And the low vaccination rates among ship crews (and therefore high infection rates) means that more delays and disruptions are coming.
- So what are we to do? The experts are clear. All healthcare facility workers must be vaccinated (including non-clinician personnel). And face mask restrictions must be reinstated and reinforced.
The data couldn't be much more clear. (This is usually where we'd pivot to something cute like "just like the data on medical supplies expiration..." but let's make sure there's a healthcare industry to improve before we try to improve it.)
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