By Abbey O'Brien| July 21, 2020 at 3:40 PM EDT - Updated July 21 at 8:02 PM
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Many healthcare providers around South Carolina and around the country struggle to find quality personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, the South Carolina Hospital Association, with support from the SC Manufacturing Extension Partnership, SC Department of Commerce and SC BIO, partnered with PPE.Exchange to launch a website for healthcare providers to secure verified PPE.
“We started PPE.Exchange because we saw our communities that were in need and weren’t getting access to PPE at a fast enough rate, we saw rampant fraud and price gauging,” co-founder of PPE Exchange JT Garwood said.
The site works almost like an Amazon for PPE and other sanitation products needed to fight COVID-19.
“When this pandemic started... hospitals started to experience disruptions in their supply chain. All their typical sources for trying to get PPE and other supplies were disrupted pretty significantly and they found it difficult to get a lot of supplies,” Vice President for Workforce and Partner Engagement with SCHA Lara Hewitt said.
PPE.Exchange has become a more efficient way for healthcare providers in hospitals, dentists offices and other practices the equipment they need. Hewitt said most of the products are made in the United States and some are even made in South Carolina.
“Those companies are being loaded on the platform are being marked with a South Carolina logo,” she added.
Hewitt said right now South Carolina hospitals, and those around the country, are seeing the largest shortages in lab supplies, gloves, shoe covers and cleaning supplies.
“For the first time in a long time, the supply chains for hospitals and the people who need access to hospitals and frontline workers is under more strain than ever before,” Garwood added.
One of the unique features is the ability to shop around and look at prices all in one place. You can also track the products as you wait for them to arrive.
“The larger hospitals do have a lot of additional resources they can pull from,” Hewitt said. “But it’s the smaller hospitals and these independent dentists and eye practitioners and places like that that have such low volumes that they’ve really had struggles to meet minimum needs for minimum orders.”
PPE.Exchange allows for bulk orders so those smaller healthcare providers can get supplies they need without purchasing more than they need. While this site should help with those products, Hewitt said they are also very much in need of healthcare workers during the crisis.
PPE.Exchange is expanding into other states.
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