The Arizona Coalition for Healthcare Emergency Response (AzCHER) understands how crucial the availability of critical medical supplies and equipment are to ensure the ongoing delivery of patient care services. This has been a focus for AzCHER and its members prior to and during their response to COVID-19. As members continued to provide critical patient care during a global pandemic, AzCHER worked closely with county public health departments, hospitals and healthcare facilities across the state to provide resources and means to access medical supplies and equipment.
AzCHER is a federally funded program administered by the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) through a grant with the Arizona Department of Health Services. In 2016, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) released the 2017-2022 Health Care Preparedness and Response Capabilities guidance to describe what the healthcare delivery system, including healthcare coalitions (HCCs), hospitals, and emergency medical services (EMS), must do to effectively prepare for and respond to emergencies that impact the public’s health. As part of these capabilities is the objective to Maintain Access to Non-Personnel Resources during an Emergency, including the Assessment of Supply Chain Integrity.
To achieve this objective in 2022, AzHHA contracted with the Healthcare Transformation Institute to complete the Medical Supply Chain Integrity Assessment for AzCHER. The team of ASU undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students, along with staff from the ASU-affiliated Healthcare Transformation Institute, were led by Professor Eugene Schneller, adjunct faculty member Jim Eckler and Assistant Professor Mikaella Polyviou , in the Department of Supply Chain Management at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Together, the team surveyed members (hospitals, long-term care facilities, medical clinics, dialysis centers, and other medical care providers) of AzCHER, and interviewed medical supply manufacturers, distributors, and government agencies to determine supply chain vulnerabilities for the following categories:
- Medical gas
- Pharmaceuticals and nutritional products
- Leasing entities for biomedical (e.g., monitors, ventilators, etc.) and other durable medical equipment
- Disposables supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE)
Documented in the full report, Building Supply Chain Resilience in the Arizona Healthcare System, are clear and significant vulnerabilities along with a wide range of mitigation strategies, the capabilities required to engage in mitigation activities and the required business structure. AzHHA and AzCHER will utilize this information to coordinate effectively within the state, in collaboration with ESF-8 (Public Health and Medical Service) agencies, to develop a joint understanding and strategies to address vulnerabilities in the medical supply chain. These strategies will provide AzCHER a pathway to enhance its efforts in meeting its mission to build a more resilient healthcare system so that it is prepared to respond to and recover from a large-scale emergency or disaster.