Baltimore bridge collapse may hamper healthcare supply chain

Hospitals and health systems may see short-term supply chain disruptions, such as delayed deliveries, in the wake of the Baltimore bridge collapse.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed at about 2 a.m. March 26 after a cargo ship reportedly lost power and hit the structure. The collapse has trapped about a dozen cargo ships in Baltimore's harbor and paused most of the city's shipping infrastructure, according to Bloomberg. The city has brought in a salvage firm to oversee the cleanup effort and clear a path for ships.

Jim Monkmeyer, president of transportation at DHL Supply Chain, told the publication the port could reopen as soon as May, while rebuilding the bridge is expected to take at least a year. 

The incident could cause significant ripples in the U.S. supply chain, as Baltimore is a major exporter of coal and the top port for automobile shipments, according to The Washington Post. However, the downstream effects for the healthcare supply chain are not expected to be long-lasting, according to Todd Ebert, president and CEO of the Healthcare Supply Chain Association. 

"Due to the Baltimore bridge collapse, the healthcare supply chain may experience short-term effects such as delayed deliveries and restocking issues until deliveries can be re-routed," he told Becker's March 28. "Manufacturers, distributors and healthcare providers in the area will have to continue evaluating what goes through the Baltimore port, and continued diversions could impact other East Coast ports and deliveries of critical medical supplies, devices, and medications as well."

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