Dooley, who is an expert on medical supply distribution issues, said that most of the country's large medical distributors have an estimated 20- to 30-day cushion of key medical surgical supplies. However, he acknowledges that there appears to be a gap between the supplies that the nation would need and the supplies represented by distributors' stockpiles and hospitals' average inventory levels.
We're not recommending that hospitals rush to stockpile medical supplies. That would place an undue stress on the supply chain and drive up prices for products, said Dooley. Instead, hospitals need to take a critical look at their inventory levels.
- Determine whether they need to slowly begin making changes to prepare for the impact of avian flu or some other pandemic
- Communicate their needs to their supply distribution partners
- Network with other hospitals in their community or region
- Develop a contingency plan for how they might share supplies or move supplies within a region on a rolling basis
Dooley concluded, If we're hit by avian flu, and it spreads slowly, region by region, there might be enough flexibility in the supply chain to withstand that scenario.
VHA helps hospitals with supply chain management and establishing networks with other hospitals so they can develop solutions to common operational and clinical challenges. Through VHA's health care contracting services company, Novation, hospital members can obtain discounts on medical supplies.
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