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Device Industry Aids Hurricane Relief

Originally Published MDDI November 2005 Industry News Device Industry Aids Hurricane Relief Maria Fontanazza

Originally Published MDDI November 2005

Industry News

Device Industry Aids Hurricane Relief

Maria Fontanazza

An American Red Cross volunteer gives Abbott managers a tour of the Astrodome.

Soon after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, device companies sprang into action. In all, they donated more than $24 million in money and supplies. Some companies even sent workers directly into the field to help.

“The medical device industry has not only been proactive throughout this national tragedy,” says Jori Frahler, “but it has been extremely generous.” Frahler is policy director at the Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA). “The partnership formed by the device industry and the government is just one example of how Americans come together to help each other during a crisis.”

MDMA and AdvaMed have been working with HHS and the Department of Commerce to notify firms of the needed supplies. Hundreds of medical devices are on the list. It includes field hospital basics like exam tables, hospital beds, and accessories. It also lists first aid kits, surgical instruments, catheters, and oxygen nebulizers.

Most companies have sent donations directly to the affected region via federal government contacts. But in addition to sending money and devices, some medical product companies sent employees to help.

Abbott set up a point-of-care testing area at the Astrodome.

Abbott Diagnostics (Abbott Park, IL) sent its Architour trucks, which are normally used to demonstrate products. The 18-wheelers are essentially labs-on-wheels that can generate their own power.

“We looked for alternative ways to help,” says Christy Wistar, division vice president of U.S. marketing at Abbott. “Having the Architour trucks gave us that opportunity.” The company also set up a satellite lab with portable devices in the Houston Astrodome. It also provided lab service on one of its trucks outside the Oschner Hospital in New Orleans. These services helped the hospital return to a limited surgery schedule.

Baxter Healthcare Corp. (Deerfield, IL) contributed similarly. It sent five truckloads of intravenous solutions and administration sets to emergency centers in Louisiana and Mississippi the weekend after Katrina hit.

Many companies, like Johnson & Johnson (New Brunswick, NJ), are contributing funds. J&J is matching employee and retiree donations to relief organizations. Such organizations also have provided outlets where device companies can send help. In addition, the Commerce Department set up the Katrina Corporate Donations Response Center. It serves as a single government point of contact to link corporate product donations to areas with the most need.

ECRI (Plymouth Meeting, PA) has Web site information for healthcare facilities about medical device–related disaster relief. The resources include details about device donation, rental, and loaner programs. Also provided is information on how to clean and repair water-damaged products and a list of requirements for devices operated from backup generators. The site can be found at http://katrina.ecri. org/default.aspx.

FDA has offered tips for certain products that are susceptible to damage when exposed to high temperatures. The agency has provided information on how long products such as reagents and human heart valve allografts can last without refrigeration. In most cases, such products won't last more than a day or so. High heat, humidity, and flooding also affect the safety and sterility of devices and equipment. FDA has directed users to follow product labeling or contact the manufacturer to ensure proper function of a device. The agency also urged dialysis clinics to reevaluate their water-treatment systems for contamination and to check equipment before reopening. In addition, FDA released a new guidance called Disposal of Contaminated Devices; Notice to Pharmacy Owners and FDA Inspectors on Checking Medical Devices for Potential Contamination and Disposing of Contaminated Medical Devices. It provides tips on checking medical devices for contamination and disposing of contaminated products. The guidance can be found online at www.fda.gov/cdrh/emergency/disposal.html.

Copyright ©2005 Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry

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