The impact of supply chain disruptions on chronically ill patients 

Millions of chronically ill patients are struggling to get medical supplies amid global shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, The New York Times reported March 29. 

"The big question throughout the pandemic, as COVID has ramped up demands on the healthcare system, is what happens when there’s not enough of something urgently needed?" Colin Killick, executive director of Disability Policy Consortium, a civil rights advocacy organization, told the Times. "The answer, in all kinds of contexts, has been that disabled people go into the void."

Six in 10 people suffer from chronic illnesses, and over 61 million Americans live with a disability, according to data from the CDC. The supply chain disruptions, as well as increased demand for certain supplies as a result of COVID-19, have caused global shortages of critical supplies.

"Normally that might be 150 different items in any given week on back order," David Hargraves, senior vice president of supply chain for Premier, told the Times. "That number today is north of 1,000."

These disruptions have left disabled patients without replacement parts for accommodations that allow them to live on their own. ICU Medical, the company that manufactures tracheotomy tubes, told the Times they are working to correct supply chain disruptions with their products. Some patients, however, are having to sterilize tubes themselves in order to reuse.

"I think this is a piece of this larger puzzle of people with disabilities being deemed less worthy of resources, less worthy of treatment, less worthy of keeping alive," Mr. Killick told the Times.


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