Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has mandated enhanced barrier precautions in nursing homes to prevent the spread of multidrug-resistant organisms. This includes the use of gowns and gloves during high-contact resident care activities, such as “providing hygiene” (e.g., brushing teeth, combing hair, and shaving). This new requirement will increase the need for facilities to obtain and maintain an inventory of gloves, gowns, and other supplies. At a time when profit margins are razor thin and budgets are being slashed, this can present a significant challenge.

Justin Watson, MPA, healthcare coalition coordinator for the Omaha Metropolitan Healthcare Coalition, said, “This is where the value of coalitions and partnerships is key. It’s all about building relationships, but you can’t build these overnight.” He added, “It is important to have leaders who are willing to stay ahead of the curve and make tough decisions, and there’s a value in having people who have dealt with these issues before.”

Moving forward, lessons learned during the pandemic will help address or even help prevent supply chain challenges that result from regulatory requirements or other issues:

Be open and transparent with staff about supply availability and shortages. Stress your commitment to their safety as well as that of residents, visitors, and others.

Train staff about supplies that can be reused and how this can be done safely.

Engage suppliers and other partners early on. Discuss what future needs may be and possible payment arrangements to reduce avoidable strains on your budgets.

“Supply chain shortages aren’t new, but they were exacerbated during the pandemic, and we learned to be more resilient and creative. We can look for ways to get the supplies we need and save financially, while managing our expectations,” Watson said.​