New York City hospitals currently have stockpiles of millions of masks, gloves, and disposable gowns, a far cry from the early days of the pandemic, when there was such high demand for limited supplies of personal protective equipment that some nurses were forced to create makeshift gowns from garbage bags.
“There are some items that are going to take us six to nine months to kind of wean down because we bought so much of it. And then, there’s items we might have for years,” Carlos Maceda, vice president and chief supply chain officer at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, told the Wall Street Journal. “It will last us forever the amount of masks that we have.”
Though New York’s state of emergency expired in June, hospitals are still abiding by the May 2020 requirement to maintain a 90-day PPE stockpile as the Department of Health reviews coronavirus regulations. The amounts of supplies in the stockpiles is calculated based on height-of-the-pandemic usage and multiplied by 90 days, designed to keep hospitals from getting dangerously close to running out of vital supplies.
Shortly after the the frightening early months of the pandemic, hospitals and manufacturers raced to produce and purchase supplies, many of which were calculated based on the numbers they were seeing then. To ensure bulk production, many hospitals signed multiyear supply deals, a shift from the usual buy-as-needed system.
The pandemic, hospital officials say, forced them to diversify their suppliers, gain an understanding of the supply chain, and have realized it is essential to not be caught off guard by an unprecedented emergency.
By the time the manufactures and supply chains caught up to delivering the medical equipment, the worst of the pandemic had passed, and the amount of supplies required daily had fallen.
Hospitals are sitting comfortably on months worth of supplies, though they intend to use them all over time.
Updated Tuesday, July 6, 2021 at 1:33 pm .