Horry County to receive 13,000 medical supplies from federal government

Updated: Mar. 30, 2020 at 8:54 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - The National Strategic Stockpile distributed nearly 300,000 medical supplies to South Carolina this past weekend.

The National Strategic Stockpile deploys medicine and medical supplies in the U.S. during national emergencies.

South Carolina received 110,000 surgical masks, 47,000 N95 respirators and 16,000 surgical gowns in the last shipment to help medical professionals handle COVID-19.

Every county in the state received supplies but some more than others.

Charleston County has the most reported COVID-19 cases.

Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said the allocation of supplies is based on need and 2010 county population numbers.

Horry County received around 5% of the statewide supplies.

In the Pee Dee and Grand Strand region, Florence County received the 2nd most supplies including 6,000 face masks and 2,500 respirators. Other Pee Dee counties reportedly received less than 2% of the supplies.

South Carolina has received two shipments of supplies from the federal government in the last two weeks. This past weekend’s supply contained about 10,000 more items including double the amount of hand gloves but 44,000 fewer face masks.

Tidelands Health Chief Operating Officer Gayle Resetar said Tidelands hasn’t received any of the supplies yet.

SCDHEC said the supplies are distributed to county officials who decide where to locally send the supplies.

A spokesperson for Horry County said in an email, “There is very little that is being sent to us from the strategic national stockpile. The majority of those supplies are going to local hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare agencies where the need is the greatest.”

The county did not provide details on how it distributed the supplies, if it’s received the latest shipment or how it is determining need.

Resetar said Tidelands’ supplies are still sufficient and they have started shifting to some reusable staff gowns.

“We are trying to conserve PPE, or personal protective equipment, so there are a lot of strategies health systems everywhere have employed,” Resetar said.

Resetar said decreasing and delaying out-patient procedures and same-day surgeries have helped the facilities conserve supplies and staff.

Nationwide, a shortage of ventilators are concerning health officials.

“Our ICUs are busier than they normally are this time of year and more ventilators in use than normal but not all of those are on use on COIVD-19 positive patients,” Resetar said.

No ventilators were included in the recent supplies South Carolina received from the federal government.

SCDHEC surveyed South Carolina facilities last week and found the state has a little more than 1,200 ventilators with about 17% in use. A few facilities reported having less than half of the equipment available.

Resetar said Tidelands Health is using about half of its ventilators but supplies change daily.

A spokesperson for Conway Medical Center said the center has “20 ICU ventilators, but has the capability of transitioning machines from other areas of the hospital to utilize as ICU ventilators as well.”

In the Pee Dee and Grand Strand region, the survey found there are around 266 ventilators total with about 20% in use.

Multiple hospitals in the state did not fully fill out the health department’s survey so the true need for ventilators is not fully known.

Resetar said adequate supplies are only one part of the solution as South Carolina facilities prepare for a surge in patients.

“Preparing for the influx of patients is something you have to do, that we’ve been doing for the last couple weeks, planning for any rooms we can use or things we can put into service that we didn’t have in service, looking for that staff to staff all those rooms and the supplies to support the patients and the caregivers in those rooms so it’s not really all about any one thing,” Resetar said.

On Monday, SCDHEC reported 925 cases of COVID-19. The state predicts there will be 8,000 cases by May.

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