The country’s largest hospital chain is getting into the manufacturing business. Nashville-based HCA says it’s entered into a new joint venture with a health care products manufacturer to make masks, gloves and gowns in North Carolina.
HCA is responding to the global shortage of personal protective equipment that rose to crisis levels early in the pandemic and have persisted. Most of the country’s PPE came from China, which had its own COVID-related needs.
“The recent surge in demand for PPE due to the pandemic has underscored how dependent we have been on supplies from overseas and the importance of working to diversify our supply chain,” chief medical officer Dr. Jonathan Perlin says in a statement.
Compared to the prior year, HCA says it spent nearly $200 million more in 2020 to acquire protective gear for its 187 hospitals.
The company is working with A Plus International to make the products in Asheville, where HCA recently purchased the Mission Health system. In fact, the money for the project comes from a fund set up as part of acquiring the nonprofit, which is meant to invest in the local community. And the manufacturing site will be located on one of Mission Health’s campuses.
The protective gear will be available to other hospital systems as well, distributed by HCA subsidiary HealthTrust, which supplies roughly a quarter of all the hospitals in the U.S.