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Why the U.S. Still Has a Severe Shortage of Medical Supplies

Unlike toilet paper and hand sanitizer, the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and critical health care supplies in the United States still hasn’t stabilized, and health care professionals across the country continue to face higher risk working conditions as a result. To support efforts of the federal government’s Supply Chain Task Force, a team of researchers recently took a deeper dive into the issue and the supply chain deficiencies that are causing it.

The research team*, including Rob Handfield, executive director of the SCRC and distinguished professor of supply chain management at the Poole College of Management, found that the deficiencies causing the ongoing shortage are very much solvable, but the solutions will require the federal government to start putting more support behind the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).

Some of the issues identified concerning the SNS included its overall inability to support the needs of the pandemic (despite being designed in-part for such circumstances), the low priority the federal government has placed on it since its inception under the George W. Bush administration, insufficient planning (and the information and technology required to do said planning), and a lack of critical expertise among SNS employees.

To read more about the research team’s findings in the Harvard Business Review, click here.

*The full research team included:

Robert Handfield — Bank of America Distinguished Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management at North Carolina State University’s Poole College of Management in Raleigh, North Carolina

Daniel Joseph Finkenstadt — a major in the U.S. Air Force and an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Defense Management at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California

Peter Guinto — an attorney and chief of contracts in the U.S. Air Force’s Medium Altitude Unmanned Aerial Systems Division in Dayton, Ohio