By: Keri Forsythe-Stephens

I write this editorial quarantined in my house, struck (for perhaps the thousandth time) at how much has changed in the past two months. Our lives look vastly different than they did at the start of 2020—and nowhere is this more evident than in the healthcare sector.

Suddenly, words like “ventilators” and “PPE” are in the vernacular of the general public—and a shortage of critical medical equipment has become a popular conversation around the water cooler (well, proverbially, at least). But for you, those who are actually on the front lines of this crisis, the situation is much more dire—and real.

To gauge how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the HTM community, 24×7 surveyed our readership in mid-March. And what you revealed was very telling. One of the biggest takeaways? You’re experiencing difficulties sourcing parts and renting equipment as a result of the crisis.

Of those surveyed, 26% said they are encountering “significant” problems renting equipment in the current climate while 17% copped to experiencing “slight” difficulties. A further 44% revealed that while they are not having trouble renting equipment yet, they expect to in the future.

Moreover, 28% of survey respondents said they are experiencing “slight” problems sourcing parts while 55% remarked that while they are not having trouble yet, they expect to down the line. Only a small percentage of respondents—5%—said they are having “significant” difficulties since a lot of the parts are made in China.

Another major change brought on by the pandemic: Some facilities are locking out third-party service organizations. In fact, 39% of survey respondents said their workplace has “significantly” limited third-party service organizations from entering the building while 34% remarked that their workplace has put “slight” limitations on third-party service organizations. A subsequent 24% said that while their workplace hasn’t taken a stance on third-party service organizations yet, that could certainly change in the future.

More than one-third of those surveyed also said that they are working more hours as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with one person commenting that their workplace is “reallocating equipment and budgets” to address the facility’s changing needs. “Our team is also doing work outside of our normal scope,” the respondent wrote.

Another person said their team has been split into two shifts to protect the hospital’s equipment coverage. “In the event one shift’s BMETs get infected, we, hopefully, would still have coverage with the other team.”

It’s a marked change, indeed—and one that 24×7 Magazine wants to stay on top of. Please e-mail me at kstephens@medqor.com and let me know how COVID-19 has changed business at your facility. 

Keri Forsythe-Stephens is chief editor of 24×7 Magazine.