Health leaders push to nationalize production of PPE


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — As cases of COVID spike, lessons learned over the past year are playing out, including making sure there are enough masks, gowns and face shields for front line workers.

Leadership at Hartford Healthcare is working with Connecticut’s federal delegation to nationalize the production of PPE.

CEO of Hartford Healthcare Jeff Flaks says it is startling, “The use rates are climbing. We can’t buy enough.”

CEO of Hartford Healthcare Jeff Flaksis not waiting for the White House. He has prepared a “one year supply” a local stockpile of masks, gowns and face shields for front-line workers in his healthcare system. “We set up a 24 hour, seven day a week system that buys PPE across every continent in the world.”

Last year, Hartford Healthcare spent nearly $4 million on those personal protective supplies.
During the pandemic, that number has jumped to $30 million. Hartford Healthcare has also recently acquired a new warehouse to house the PPE.

Flaks says, “When you think about the national reserve for oil this country anticipated the need to be protected incase of a shortage or disruption in the supply chain. But to not have done that for medical supplies doesn’t make a great deal of sense.”

So Flaks is working with Congressman John Larson on legislation to encourage the White House to invoke the Defense Production Act. A quick path to get manufacturers to produce more supplies and equipment.

“We can learn from the pandemic. The legislation that our congressional delegation put forward will make this country safer,” added Flaks.

Avoiding interstate bidding competitions or jumping through hoops to get PPE from halfway around the world, including those much sought after COVID tests, which Flaks says, “most importantly testing is available.”

Flaks says another field hospital at the Convention center is coming – just incase.

Back at the height of the pandemic last spring, there are documented cases of people having strokes and other emergencies not coming to the hospital for fear of catching COVID.

Hospital officials urge people to come to the hospital and take care of their medical needs. They will remain open. Experts have learned a lot about the virus and they can keep you safe.

In the absence of an across-the-board nationalization of the Defense Production ACT, the Trump administration has invoked the ACT on more than 30 instances to generate N-95 respirators ventilators, and boost testing resources as well as other vital supplies.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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