UIHC making IV fluids to offset national shortage

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Hospitals across the country are feeling a ripple effect from the hurricanes a few months ago. It's now been almost 12 weeks since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has had to up its manufacture of IV fluids, like saline, from raw materials. (Forrest Saunders/KCRG-TV9)

The medical products industry has a significant presence in that U.S. territory. The biggest impact has been a shortage of IV fluid. Hospitals haven't reported any patient impact in Cedar Rapids but said they're monitoring things.

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has had to up its manufacture of IV fluids, like saline, from raw materials. It typically produces the medical product for education purposes. But is now doing it to keep up with the shortage.

IV fluids are routinely used for hydration and to get people the medicine they need. UIHC pharmacy technicians know its importance to the industry.

For weeks, many techs have been up on the seventh floor of the hospital putting in extra hours to keep the facility supplied. Their effort is generating 50% more IV fluid than they would normally. Officials expect it to be like this for a while longer.

“We believe there is going to be some resolution with the smaller bag sizes over the next two to four weeks,” said Michael Brownlee, UIHC’s Chief Pharmacy Officer. “That will start to help us rebuild our stock levels. Once those are rebuilt, then it will help the other areas with the larger bags that have also gone short."

Brownlee said the trouble in Puerto Rico wasn't damage done to the manufacturing facilities. It was power loss and now workforce. He said many have left Puerto Rico to live in places within the contiguous U.S.