A hurting Puerto Rico adds to the growing damages of flu season

By Courtney Gast

During the fall, Puerto Rico was hit with more than one hurricane causing the loss of many jobs, which resulted in the unemployment of many. With this comes great consequences here in the continental United States.

Puerto Rico is known to be the main supplier  of medical supplies for our country. It is not apparent to those who are being treated, and it is not readily talked about, but since then, a shortage of supplies has been reported. More specifically, it has been an IV bag shortage. Due to the massive flu outbreak, doctors have had to find alternative ways to treat patients to preserve bags for those in greater need. With these alternative ways comes consequences for many.

Without IV bags, nurses will have to manually administer drugs and fluids into their patients. This is called the push method. This method takes about 3-5 minutes to administer, which does not seem like a long time until there are 15 patients that need the same help. This results in a single nurse being off the floor for 45 to 75 minutes.

Although this way results in more one on one with patients, this time frame does not include taking vital signs, charting and more. By the time a nurse finishes one dosage, she would have to repeat. Other alternatives consist of oral medications and stopping the IV bag when the patient no longer needs it. Even though these are great solutions to solve the issue temporarily, there needs to be a more long-term approach.

With Puerto Rico supplying nearly half the IV bags, hospitals are finding ways to fill this gap. In desperation before the situation begins to worsen, hospitals have turned to Canadian suppliers to help.

To solve the shortage, while it is a start, it will not help the fact that thousands of Puerto Ricans will be out of a job. In the medical field, the goal is to do no harm. It is understandable why the hospitals had to turn elsewhere but, it never had to result to this.

The flu epidemic is big and deadly to many. It could never have been predicted to be as big as it has become, but it was known that flu season was coming. The United States knew that Puerto Rico was a giant provider for IV bag production, yet it was still neglected to preserve IV bags until we helped Puerto Rico get back on their feet.

Neglecting to do so, it seems as if we have given up on our own people. We have taken their jobs and revenue, and we have given it away. Even if this is a temporary fix, there is no guarantee that Puerto Rico will ever get their business back.

Had the United States better prepared for the shortage and had the government provided more assistance, Puerto Rico could be back up and running.