3 major supply chain concerns for ASC leaders

The COVID-19 pandemic threw curveballs in existing supply chain issues for ASCs. Here are three of the biggest concerns ASC leaders have shared over the past 90 days:

Personal protective equipment: The surge in demand for PPE left some healthcare centers scrambling. Cindy Young, administrator at Surgery Center of Farmington (Mo.), told Becker's ASC Review that it was her biggest challenge in 2020.

"My normal vendors have them on allocation, and we have noticed our allocation is not enough to get us through the month. We are searching other sites, including Amazon, to help close the gap," she said. "We have purchased from Amazon masks for patients to wear and bouffant caps."

John Paoni, administrator at Physicians Care Surgery Center in Royersford, Pa., also pointed out price increases. "For example, gloves jumped from $6 per box to $18 per box," he said.

Allocation: ASCs don't have the same buying power as hospitals for supplies, and the pandemic has put additional strain as surges fill up capacity, Danilo D'Aprile, administrator at Danbury, Conn.-based Orthopaedic & Specialty Surgery Center, told Becker's ASC Review.

"For ASCs, I feel it is almost always a rat race to find the best pricing and see which vendor has the best price for the day," he said. "We are always trying to chase best pricing and availability based on what vendor or distributor you are buying it from."

Catherine Retzbach, BSN, RN, administrator at Memorial Ambulatory Surgery Center in Mount Holly, N.J., echoed that, saying: "There are many surgery centers in the country; however, they are individual small businesses. When it comes to the supply chain, surgery centers are not known for ordering in large quantities, so we are not at the top of the list of supply distribution."

Supply shortages: ASCs are arming themselves ahead of the potential for a second supply shortage in 2021. Planning and stockpiling were strategies some ASC leaders shared with Becker's ASC Review.

Suzi Cunningham, administrator at Redlands, Calif.-based Advanced Ambulatory Surgery Center, said relationships with vendors have helped her plan ahead and keep supplies stocked.

"If it hadn't been for them, I'm not sure how we would have made it through," she said. "Moving forward, we will stay prepared for that rainy day and stock up."

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