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Vanderbilt revives PPE tracking project sidelined by the Trump administration

Courtesy of UNMC
The University of Nebraska Medical Center implemented this same UV disinfecting procedure for N95 masks early in the pandemic week and shared the protocol with other medical centers.

Vanderbilt has received funding to study how hospitals snatched up and burned through personal protective equipment early in the pandemic. At the time, public health officials thought some hospitals were hoarding supplies, but they didn’t know who.

The ultimate goal is to create a platform where hospitals have to share details about the PPE they have on hand and have ordered. And in a pinch, federal authorities could redistribute or reroute shipments to hospitals in need.

The largest hospital systems haven’t bought in just yet. But Vanderbilt nursing professor Kelly Aldrich says her two goals are to bring more transparency and eliminate disparities.

“What we’re talking about is an infrastructure inequity that our country has where we can’t manage supply chain and protect human beings who are trying to care for other human beings,” she says.

More: One Nashville nonprofit tracked protective gear in preparation for the coronavirus at the start of the pandemic

For starters, Aldrich and her team will analyze data collected in the early months of the pandemic. A pilot group of hospitals assembled by Nashville’s Center for Medical Interoperability agreed to share daily inventory data on respirators, surgical masks and face shields.

That project was supposed to last three years but came to an abrupt halt in mid 2020 when the Trump Administration took over the role of overseeing COVID data.
Copyright 2021 WPLN News. To see more, visit WPLN News.

Blake Farmer is Nashville Public Radio's senior health care reporter. In a partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, Blake covers health in Tennessee and the health care industry in the Nashville area for local and national audiences.
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