Ireland is punching above its weight when it comes to securing medical supplies

Ireland is punching above its weight when it comes to securing medical supplies
Owen Curtin of Healthcare 21 in Blarney, Cork City praised HSE administrators' response to the crisis Picture: Clare Keogh

Ireland is a small country in the middle of a global supply change disruption which means securing vital medical supplies is going to be very difficult, the head of one of Europe’’s largest medical companies has said.

Owen Curtin the founder of Healthcare 21 based in Cork which supplies medical equipment such as ventilators, beds and blood pressure monitoring equipment said the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all parts of the supply chain with every country and jurisdiction across the globe scrambling for vital equipment such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

"The difficulty for us is that we are a tiny, tiny country in the middle of a huge supply change disruption and not just for the products everyone is talking about such as ventilators but for every other item like the filters for ventilators, thermometers and PPE," he said.

Healthcare 21 supplies medical equipment from its warehouse in Blarney to various medical facilities and organisations including the HSE in Ireland and the NHS in the UK.

Mr Curtin said that even for hospital beds which they source from Poland they have seen delivery times extend by a week for a variety of factors related to the worldwide shutdown.

However, he said that Ireland is well placed to tackle the coronavirus as both the HSE and his company had seen the likely impact of the coronavirus earlier this year and had begun increasing levels of equipment on hand.

"Given that it’’s a small open economy competing with major economies in a global market, that is very short on supply at the moment, Ireland is punching way above its weight and the HSE deserves a lot of credit, not just their frontline staff but also their administrators and procurement team."

"In my 40 years working in the industry, I have never ever seen togetherness and a hard work ethic has been done at every level in the last month to make sure that services will meet the need and demand," Mr Curtin said.

Healthcare 21 also operates a major decontamination and recycling centre in Annacotty, Limerick where they service and recondition thousands of wheelchairs, beds, hoists and other equipment for homes across the country.

Mr Curtin said this service has increased in recent weeks which is important during the Covid-19 crisis as it helps people remain in their own homes where they are safer instead of having spend time in hospital where they could possibly contract the virus.

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