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NJ congressman tries to get a grip on national PPE stockpile

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When the pandemic began almost two years ago and the number of COVID cases suddenly increased, everyone was looking for masks, gloves, gowns, ventilators and other life-saving equipment.

A New Jersey congressman is trying to make sure this never happens again.

US Rep. Josh Gottheimer, NJ 5th District, introduced the Medical and Health Stockpile Accountability Act to ensure the Garden State and the entire country are better prepared for future crises and pandemics.

PSA confusion

He said at the start of the COVID crisis, hospitals were inundated with coronavirus patients and “our excellent frontline workers, our healthcare workers, were stuck wearing bandanas or using garbage bags as gowns in hospitals. We just didn’t have the supplies.”

Blue and white vector realistic protective face masks, medical equipment

Katerina Sisperova

Gottheimer said months later, “It turns out that at the time we were first hit, we actually had PPE and ventilators in Kansas and Arkansas, and we had nothing.”

He said his legislation is about “ensuring that the strategic national stockpile has what it needs, that we keep a close eye on it so that we have an automated system to track the supply chain”.

He said this would ensure we had “near real-time insight into what’s going on where, where are the prescription drugs we need, where are the ventilators we need, how many we have in our stash.” , they work.”

What we need

The law would establish an automated supply chain tracking application within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide almost instant insight into the amount of critical medical and healthcare supplies held in the Strategic National Stockpile and the medical and healthcare inventories of local and private entities such as Hospitals, manufacturers and distributors across the country.

It would also establish clear policies and practices for data access and use of the new supply chain tracking applications, eliminate manual reporting overhead and errors by automating data feeds from healthcare facilities to a centralized system, and support state, local and private health care facilities like community hospitals that don’t have an automated supplier management system to track what’s available where.

Preparation is key

Gottheimer said we need to learn from this pandemic so we don’t find ourselves in a similar type of crisis in the future. He said upgrading the system would help.

Efforts are also underway in Congress to pass legislation that expands the distribution of high-quality masks, gowns, and other PPE throughout the United States to reduce our reliance on other countries, particularly China, to secure these essential items.

Meanwhile, US Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, NJ 12th District, is a co-sponsor of the Masks for All Act, which calls for the government to distribute a package of three N95 masks to everyone in the United States.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at [email protected]

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