East Tennessee hospitals affected by saline shortage as flu season hits

Cheryl Sanders
January 13, 2018

Local hospitals report a shortage of intravenous products that are made in Puerto Rico.

Steward Health Care, which operates Trumbull Regional Medical Center, Northside Regional Medical Center and Sharon Regional Medical Center and Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital in Howland, said it has "never had this national shortage affect any aspect of patient care here locally".

Hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico on Wednesday launched a new drive to become the 51st U.S. state, with the island's governor demanding an end to "second-class" treatment of its citizens.

Xcel Energy trucks loaded on to a barge in Lake Charles Louisiana destined for Puerto Rico
Xcel Energy trucks loaded on to a barge in Lake Charles Louisiana destined for Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria's impact has hit home.

JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU) has announced the 100-day milestone of its 100x35JetBlue hurricane relief initiative, which launched shortly after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, the company said.

But finding those other suppliers could become more hard. Ohio Health System will evaluate its new practices to see which are cost-effective and should be kept, said pharmacy services head Curt Passafume Jr.

Now, Xcel Energy crews are being called in to help restore the destroyed power grid. Baxter, one of the main producers of IV saline fluids, got power back its Puerto Rican plant in later December after weeks of outages.

Saline and other nutrient solutions are are given to dehydrated flu patients through IV bags, but this year, there is a shortage of those much-needed supplies.

"UNC Health Care, along with most other hospitals nationwide, continues to face shortages of some medical supplies".

Duke University Hospital says every month, it's only getting half the fluids it used to before the hurricane. A request for similar information to Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg was not returned.

"We have seen an increase in the number of flu cases compared to a year ago". While this shortage appears bigger, hospitals have dealt with shortages before, Thompson said, so they'll keep monitoring supplies - and knocking on wood. "People are doing things to preserve their supply".

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