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HME providers leverage connections, lend support in time of crisis

HME providers leverage connections, lend support in time of crisis

YARMOUTH, Maine - While HME providers have always known the value of forging strong relationships as part of operating a successful business, it becomes even more apparent during challenging times, they say.

Chalk one up for industry champs

With the traditional supply chains for personal protective equipment under restricting orders, providers say they've had to get creative when it comes to protecting employees and patients.

“There's been a scramble for masks and hand sanitizers,” said Jason Morin, director of reimbursement for Home Care Specialists in Haverhill, Mass. “Orders keep getting pushed further and further back if not (outright) cancelled.”

Enter Democratic State Representative Andy Vargas, a friend to HME providers in Massachusetts, who stepped up to collect and donate PPE, including N95 respiratory masks, to the provider, as well as to area hospitals and health care providers, he said.

“We were low on masks and contemplating discontinuing accepting new patients when I contacted Rep. Vargas who was collecting PPE for local health care providers and he donated a supply of N95s for us,” said Morin. “We're working other connections, too. It's those personal relationships.”

Morin continues to monitor the situation daily and follow guidelines set by organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration, believing communication is the best cure for the fear and panic created by social media and rumors.

“We've lost a couple of our delivery techs over fear,” he said.

Providers helping providers

While fears over coronavirus are understandable, Brad Heath says one thing he doesn't want HME providers—especially smaller companies—to worry about is losing patients to competitors if they are unable to service patients because an employee contracts COVID-19.

“We've published a statement saying that we don't see this as a sales opportunity,” said Heath, vice president of operations and marketing for Dunn, N.C.-based Family Medical Supply. “If you've got delivery technicians going out and they all use the same warehouse, if one contracts COVID-19 and you have to (close it down), at least for the quarantine period, there's a fear you can't get out there and service your patients.”


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