We’re sharing a behind-the-scenes look into resupplying front-line hospital workers in the war against COVID-19. Medical equipment is like modern day artillery. Here is one of the businesses working hard to supply the frontlines with lower cost medical devices, essential for the war on COVID-19.
We don’t hear much about how the frontlines are being resupplied during the pandemic. But untold stories like this one are important because these are the essential workers focused on making the medical supply chain more resilient.
Cindy Tran is a seven-year veteran and Team Lead on the Pulse Oximeter Line at ReNu Medical, a single-use medical device reprocessing company located in Everett, Washington. When asked what she liked best about her job, she said, “Being able to be in a great work atmosphere and knowing that your work is helping others in need in our community as well as the entire nation.”
A pulse oximeter sensor is a noninvasive device usually placed on the fingertip that immediately determines a person’s blood oxygen saturation level. A recent opinion editorial in The New York Times by ER physician Richard Levitan tells us exactly how crucial these devices are for detecting silent hypoxia, which many medical professionals are witnessing in patients diagnosed with COVID pneumonia. In order to save lives through early detection of silent hypoxia, hospitals and doctors must have access to pulse oximeter sensors.
Labelled for “single-use” by the original manufacturer, the FDA agreed that pulse oximeters can be safely decontaminated by reprocessing companies, cleaned, tested, disinfected, packaged and sold back to hospitals at substantially lower cost. The devices are then safe and effective for reuse on other patients. Following FDA’s guidance, ReNu has provided millions of reprocessed pulse ox’s to hospitals over the last two decades. And with the demand for these devices now, volumes are up.
Hospitals saved over $472 million by using reprocessed devices in 2018, and the practice is on the rise. The practice of reprocessing has doubled in size every year for 20 consecutive years, according to the Association of Medical Device Reprocessors. Using reprocessed devices allows hospitals to invest the savings into PPE, additional nursing staff, or whatever the hospital needs to be prepared for a pandemic.
When Jennifer Baena, a Production Operator on the Pulse Oximeter Line was asked what she liked most about working for ReNu, she said, “that we are all well taken care of. My coworkers are the best, we all work together as a team to provide important medical devices to hospitals in need!”
Cindy and Jennifer represent the type of attitude that makes being an essential worker so important, and we wholeheartedly salute that.
As a trade organization, AMDR represents several companies that provide safe and effective reprocessed medical devices to thousands of hospitals in the U.S., Canada, England and Germany. We have nothing but the highest admiration for those members working countless hours to keep our hospitals open and all of us safe and healthy.
While media reports focus on how the pandemic creates major disruptions in the hospital supply chain, reprocessing is a story that cuts against the grain. Hospitals can save hundreds of millions more by expanding use of these FDA regulated programs. Using and reprocessing existing medical device assets reduces the need to rely on the supply chain for more new devices. As a part of this ecosystem, we strongly advocate for actions that help create a more resilient medical supply chain. In doing so, we find it incredibly important to acknowledge those individuals working tirelessly in the background so that hospitals and staff have the necessary equipment to both treat patients and protect themselves while on the job.
We look forward to more reports on supply chain resilience and the hardworking people that are making it happen.