Transport congestion causing lengthy delays for medical supplies

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Hospitals and other providers are experiencing lags in the delivery of between 8,000-12,000 containers of critical medical supplies and equipment, a setback that could negatively impact patient care and public health.

Healthcare resources are being delayed an average of up to 37 days throughout the U.S. transportation system due to supply chain congestion, according to research from the Health Industry Distributors Association.

Medical shipments are being held up at U.S. ports for around 17 days. The Long Beach and Los Angeles ports in California have the largest number of delayed medical containers on the West Coast. The Port of Savannah, Georgia is the most congested on the Eastern Seaboard, the association reports.

One shipping container carries roughly 190,000 medical gowns, 360,000 syringes and 3.5 million surgical gloves, HIDA estimates. These containers are being delayed an average of 11 days by train and nine days by truck, according to the distributors’ group.

The association currently represents 111 members, which manage logistics, offer customer services and deliver medical products and supplies, including 51 billion units of personal protective equipment last year.

Because unprecedented transportation disruptions have restricted the reliable and timely movement of medical products, the Health Industry Distributors Association is collaborating with several associations and port leaders to provide healthcare professionals and frontline workers with equipment more quickly and efficiently, the group says.

“HIDA recommends a fast-pass system to prioritize essential medical supplies through ports, onto rail and truck for expedited delivery to the front lines of healthcare,” Matthew Rowan, HIDA president and CEO, said in a news release. “Rules and regulations impeding timely and efficient movement of critical medical supplies must be relaxed during a public health emergency.”

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