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Your Healthy Family: Supply chain problems causing shortage in medical equipment

Posted at 7:36 AM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 07:36:53-05

Supply chain issues are leading to shortages in medical equipment like crutches, wheelchairs and canes across the country, including in Southwest Florida.

Earlier on during the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals saw shortages in ventilators and PPE. Now, hospitals are short on medical supplies made of aluminum.

"It'd be really rough if we didn't have crutches to provide for our clients and our patients. We would be really hard-pressed to do a lot of things we need them to do," Justin Ingle, a Physical Therapist Assistant at Bluegrass Orthopaedics in Kentucky, said.

Around the world, there's also a shortage in other raw materials like plastics, glass, electronics and metals.

"In Orthopedics specifically, I would say we're very short on just random supplies, depending on the month. Right now, it's crutches. There's a national aluminum shortage. There's also a national rubber shortage. So being able to actually make the crutches has been challenging," Andrew Carlson, the Director of Business Development for Bluegrass Orthopaedics, said.

Medical facilities have also reported shortages of exam tables, wheel chairs, canes, and the poles that hold IV bags. Many facilities, including Bluegrass Orthopaedics, are now asking people in the community to donate crutches they’re no longer using to make sure they have enough for their patients.

NCH Healthcare in Naples said it's dealing with the same issues. Its Marketing & Communications Director told Fox 4 NCH was able to get a bulk order of crutches, but all other aluminum items have extremely long lead times.