Local hospitals working hard to keep up with saline shortage - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Local hospitals working hard to keep up with saline shortage

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Chippewa Falls (WQOW) - Some local hospitals are working hard to keep up with a shortage of something they use every single day.

According to the FDA, high demand for saline, and a lagging supply could be because of a severe flu season. And even though the flu hasn't hit Wisconsin hard, local hospitals are still affected.

WQOW News 18 spoke with, John VanDeVoort, the Regional Director of Pharmacy for both St. Joseph's and Sacred Heart Hospitals to learn more.

He says at this time the shortage isn't affecting patient care but it has meant keeping an eye on lower than usual supplies.

Late last month, St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls received notice that its three major saline suppliers haven't been able to keep up with demand.

VanDeVoort  says, "We were put on notice that they wouldn't be able to ship full quantities and they actually place their customers on allocation."

Angela Jager, the Supervisor of Purchasing & Materials Handling, at St. Joseph's Hospital, says, "So this is our typical storage area for our sodium chloride 1000 mL bags of solution. Typically after we received an order this shelf would contain 19 boxes of solution. Our order just came in today and as you can see we only have four cases on the shelf."

On average the hospital says it uses between three and four cases of saline per day. There are 12 saline bags in each case. "Primarily someone coming into the emergency room would get it to re hydrate if they can't take fluid," explains VanDeVoort.  

The hospital says typically an order would come within two businesses days, the latest shipment took ten.

VanDeVoort  says, "I don't expect, based on what I've seen in the first few weeks of this shortage that we're going to have any surprises. I think we'll be able to weather this one without any interruptions with patient care."

In order to conserve what they have, the hospital is asking its care providers to use other IV fluids if possible.

Saline is simply water and salt, so clearly there isn't a true shortage of those materials, but saline has to be made in a sterile environment... And with only so many suppliers, they're having trouble keeping up with the demand. 

As to when this might end? Suppliers have told the hospital to expect the shortage to continue at least into late march.

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