CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - As state governments, large health systems, and others scrambled to stockpile personal protective equipment (PPE), small independent health practices in the state struggled to keep up.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, things like face shields, surgical masks, gloves, and gowns were hard to come by. Some practices were not able to open their doors because they didn’t have the equipment to keep their patients and staff safe.
“There was no way that I, a single physician, could order enough PPE to make a factory in China or anywhere in the world notice my order,” Charleston County Medical Society President Dr. Marcelo Hochman said.
Dr. Hochman, the primary surgeon for the Facial Surgery Center in Charleston, wasn’t alone in this struggle to secure PPE. He began speaking with other physicians in the area and they decided to do things a little differently. They banded together under a group called “Action PPE.”
“By pooling a bunch of small orders, we can now get what we need,” Dr. Hochman said.
They have been using group buying power to get their hands on PPE. Instead of each practice or office putting in individual orders, they order together and this has proven to be effective. Companies are more likely to fill these orders, Hochman said.
He also said small practices in the state have been able to stay open thanks to getting the equipment they desperately needed.
“It’s waxed and waned and now it’s waxing again.” Hochman said.
Physicians in 20 states are now ordering through “Action PPE.” Dr. Hochman said they have distributed more than 2 million units of PPE nationwide and hundreds of thousands of units in South Carolina.
“It’s a working system,” Dr. Hochman said. “It’s a working supply chain.”