Friday, January 21, 2022

Hospitals burnt by COVID supply crisis to invest in US masks

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LOS ANGELES () – Two days before Christmas, a cargo ship left Mumbai with a mask-making machine, which was shipped to OSF HealthCare in Illinois, where it uses the equipment to make its own N95 masks.

Sue Nguyen, operator of Armbrust American, masks at the company’s warehouse in Pflugerville, Texas, USA, January 12, 2022. / Nuri Vallbona

This is not the first step of the hospital team into production. After the closure of COVID-19 in early 2020 and the suppression of shipments from Asia, which produces about 80 percent of the world’s medical masks and protective equipment, OSF and some other hospital groups began shipping key products in the United States, including masks, gowns and key pharmaceuticals. began to enter.

Objective: To prevent a recurrence of the lack of basic life-threatening protective equipment in the early stages of the pandemic – this has become vital as schools, employers, consumers and the federal government take on high-quality N95 and other masks. a highly contagious Omicron variant.

In the last eight months, OSF has developed nearly a million surgical masks for staff and patients at its facilities, serving nearly 3 million people in Illinois and Michigan, said Pinak Shah, head of OSF’s supply chain.

The new equipment is expected to arrive in February and will produce 1 million N95 per year once approved by the Food and Drug Administration. OSF’s two mask production project makes it 100% self-reliant, King said.

OSF declined to disclose the price of the car. The surgical mask machine is expected to pay for itself in two years compared to 18 months – a difference mainly due to the fact that the freight cost is almost four times higher than usual, said Salvatore, Stile, president of Alba Wheels Up logistics company. Shipment of N95 machines.

Capital is a protection against uncertainty, King said.

“The cost of production is a bit higher than buying with a cheaper competitor. However, this will allow the market to control the risk factor and spot shortages / back orders, ”he said.

In addition, participants noted that such projects help support and stabilize domestic production and downstream local supply chains, both of which have been in times of rising and falling demand and making China much cheaper and sometimes more expensive for the U.S. at low prices are at risk of flooding. -quality, alternatives.

LEARNED SARS

Michael Alkire, chief executive of Premier Group Acquisition for Hospital Group, said China has halved its efforts to strengthen U.S. suppliers after January 2020 after changing N95 shipments from Taiwan for its own use. he said.

For more than 18 months, Premier and Rival Vizient have supported U.S. manufacturers through strategic partnerships, expansion financing, minority investments, and joint ventures. Although the Premier declined to disclose the value of his investment, Vizient said it totaled more than $ 12 million.

Prestige Ameritech is a beneficiary of such deals. Premier and its 15 hospital members received an undisclosed minority stake in the company in May 2020 in Texas. Hospitals have also promised to purchase surgical masks and a portion of the N95s from Prestige for up to six years. The visitor promised to purchase 9 million N95 masks separately in 12 months.

“That’s what the company needs,” he said. It needs a steady income, ”said Dan Reese, founder and CEO of Prestige Ameritech, adding that he and other proven U.S. mask manufacturers“ give priority and support to healthcare providers ”.

Prestige currently supplies 100 percent of its surgical masks and 80 percent of N95 at Baptist Health South Florida, said George Godfrey, vice president of supply chain for the Miami-based group.

“It definitely reduces the risk of getting these goods when everyone is trying to source them,” Godfrey said of the Premier deal.

Hospital executives say the projects will increase its reputation in an industry where no operator is able to have a significant impact on suppliers as a U.S. “top three” automaker or a leading retailer such as Walmart or Amazon.com.

“We’re not just customers, we have a place at the table,” said Bruce Radcliffe, vice president of supply chain systems at Advocate Aurora Health, a participant in several Premier Production projects.

“The healthcare industry is trying to take control of its supply chain,” said Luis Arguello, president of DemeTECH, a Florida-based manufacturer of medical masks, stitches, COVID tests and other equipment. DemeTECH is in talks with “several” hospital groups looking to invest, he said.

Members of the American Mask Manufacturers Association (AMMA), which has a large production capacity, believe the local hospital supply will be safe during the Omicron rise.

Texas mask maker Armbrust American said consumer and school district demand has almost cleaned up the 32,000-square-foot distribution center, which a few days ago was filled with unsold masks for adults and children.

“It’s great because I don’t have to go bankrupt,” said Lloyd Armbrust, president and CEO of the company, who is boosting production again.

Liza Baertlein interviews in Los Angeles; Edited by Leslie Adler

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