Hartford HealthCare CEO says he's committed to getting more domestic PPE

Jeffrey Flaks, CEO of Hartford (Conn.) HealthCare, told GBH News, a Boston NPR station, May 19 that he is committed to sourcing more domestic personal protective equipment, and that he would like to see a more robust national stockpile of medical supplies. 

"In the earliest days of the pandemic, much of our supply acquisition came from China and, secondarily, from Italy. The two countries who were impacted most first," Mr. Flaks told GBH News

Because of this, Hartford HealthCare has built up about $15 million worth of stockpiled medical equipment — enough to meet demand for six months to a year — aimed at protecting the health system against the supply shortages it saw in 2020.

Milrose Mercado, senior vice president of supply chain at Hartford HealthCare, told GBH News that Asian markets still make up a majority of the health system's PPE supply chain, though it works with some local vendors. 

"In this warehouse, I would say probably about 80 percent would be directly from an international vendor. It's a matter of raw materials. In China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, there's an abundance of raw materials as well as labor," she said. "How do we look at domestic manufacturing and really build that into the supply line infrastructure? I think a good blend of products that are sourced domestically plus internationally … would really help stabilize the supply line."

So much PPE is produced in bulk offshore that it's extremely challenging for U.S. manufacturers to stay in business, GBH News reported. Colin Cooper, the state of Connecticut's chief manufacturing officer, told GBH News that to boost domestic PPE manufacturing, the government needs to put resources behind the effort "sooner rather than later." 

"If the decision is made nine months from now … to put some financial resources behind domestic purchasing, a lot of that capacity and capability may be extinguished," he said. 

Read the full article here.


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