New coronavirus shortages: Thermometers, oxygen, ventilator therapists

Shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic are going beyond personal protective equipment and ventilators, affecting things such as personal care thermometers, oxygen and medical professionals trained to care for ventilated patients. 

People are struggling to find thermometers in stores and online as the coronavirus caused a surge in demand across the country, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. 

Medical professionals have advised that monitoring temperature is an effective way to determine COVID-19 infection. 

Many stores in the Chicago area are now completely out of thermometers, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. China is one of the main producers of thermometers and manufacturers shut down as the coronavirus spread across the country. That, combined with a spike in demand, has caused widespread shortages. 

Medical professionals are also concerned about a lack of oxygen, ABC reported. When breathing becomes difficult for COVID-19 patients, they often require supplemental oxygen.

An emergency room physician at Elmhurst Hospital in New York City told ABC the hospital was close to running out of oxygen. 

"With the number of patients we have, we are using up resources at an unusual rate," the physician said. 

Professionals are worried the pandemic is straining resources for other non-coronavirus patients who rely on oxygen, ABC reported. 

In addition to a shortage of ventilators, health experts are also warning of shortages of medical workers trained to use ventilators, which help severely ill patients breathe, ABC Columbia reported. 

A normal standard of care for ventilated patients is around-the-clock care from a team of nurses and respiratory therapists under the supervision of an intensive care physician, according to ABC. ICU physicians now may have to manage as much as four times the number of ventilated patients that they normally do. 

The state of New York has 76,049 COVID-19 cases as of April 1 at 9:50 a.m., and on March 31 Gov. Andrew Cuomo said nearly 300 ICU patients had to be put on ventilators, ABC reported. 

There are about 6,800 licensed respiratory therapists in New York state, according to ABC. Respiratory therapists monitor patients on ventilators and adjust their treatments. Even with hundreds of respiratory therapists set to graduate from school this Spring, health officials told ABC they are concerned about personnel shortages affecting hospitals' abilities to treat patients with ventilators.

More articles on supply chain:
Hospitals airlifting supplies from other countries amid severe shortages
GPOs will save the healthcare industry $456B in the next decade, study finds
Trump: Some hospitals and healthcare workers are 'hoarding equipment, including ventilators'

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