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Impact of product delays: ‘It’s a battle to find everything’

Impact of product delays: ‘It’s a battle to find everything’

YARMOUTH, Maine – Although shortages of respiratory equipment continue to make headlines, driven by a widespread recall on certain CPAP devices and noninvasive ventilators and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, providers say they are seeing massive delays in getting equipment across the board. 

“Manual wheelchairs, rollators, walkers, scooters – it’s a battle to find pretty much everything,” said Craig Rae, owner of Penrod Medical Equipment in Salisbury, N.C. “A major supplier will be out of manual wheelchairs for four to six weeks. We’ve had to add several new vendors just to get equipment.” 

Other providers report lead times ranging from two to 12 weeks and sometimes longer, they say. 

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and always used to get stuff in one to two days,” said one provider in California who didn’t want to be named. “Those days are over. As far as the lead time, it’s (a wait) on everything and 80% of the time it’s four to eight weeks.” 

Even if you’re located conveniently near a distribution point, that doesn’t even help, say providers. 

“Long lead times? Yup – on lots of products and anything respiratory,” said Chris Rice, president of Diamond Respiratory in Riverside, Calif. “And that’s despite my being only 40 miles from the port and less than 15 miles from the big manufacturers’ warehouses.”  

Unpredictability in equipment deliveries – and a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant – has made it difficult for providers to anticipate inventory needs, providers say. Terry Racciato had ordered an additional 200 concentrators that arrived six months after she placed the order; at that point, the COVID vaccine was available and she anticipated cases declining. 

“We were worried about having too much inventory, so we sold it back,” said Racciato, president of RAC & Associates in San Diego. “And then the surge hit and we started scrambling for equipment, but it’s three to four months out to get concentrators.”


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