24×7: Managing Medical Equipment Demands During Flu Season

Flu season is an annual epidemic that puts strain on hospitals across the country. US Med-Equip CEO Greg Salario spoke with 24×7 about how the company helps healthcare facilities get the equipment they need when they need it most.

24×7: How does the annual flu epidemic typically affect hospital admissions and resources?

Greg Salario: Typically we see a big jump in hospital census for patients affected directly by the flu or by complications from underlying chronic health issues. This increases the needs for ventilators, infusion pumps and other bedside equipment, including specialty mattresses.

As cases of respiratory illnesses start to climb, hospitals assess their equipment utilization to ensure their staff has the necessary equipment when they need it where they need it to help their patients heal. 

Managing Medical Equipment Demands During Flu Season

24×7: What measures does your company take to ensure that hospitals receive the necessary equipment promptly during critical times, such as the flu season?

Salario: Medical equipment can be expensive to purchase and to maintain, especially for items that are only needed seasonally. Hospitals count on our team to bolster their supply of equipment on-demand, which saves them on the cost of ownership—particularly beneficial for equipment that may not be used frequently outside of flu season.

Clinicians are under a lot of pressure and frequently turn to us when other equipment vendors are unable to meet their needs, particularly during extreme circumstances. In preparation for the surge and other unpredictable census spikes, we work closely with our partners to gauge their projected equipment needs so we’re ready to deliver equipment they need when they need it. We also help hospitals with preventative maintenance and biomedical repairs, helping them keep life-saving equipment in optimal condition for their patients. This can reduce the burden on clinicians and other hospital staff responsible for managing and maintaining large volumes of equipment.

24×7: What types of equipment does your company offer for rental, sale, and service, and how do hospitals decide which option is best for their needs?

Salario: We rent, sell and service a wide range of respiratory, infusion, central supply, monitoring, NICU and other life-saving movable medical devices that hospitals use as part of their existing equipment fleet. We also provide our hospital partners specialty beds and support surfaces with the latest technology, including automated proning and verticalization therapies. Whether delivering specialty bed mattresses to a hospital within 3 hours or servicing an incubator that could help save the life of an infant, our team carefully handles every one of our 196,000 pieces of equipment as though it was intended to treat our own family member.

Renting medical equipment provides hospitals with the flexibility to scale up or down based on demand and allocate resources to clinicians helping their patients heal rather than on costly, underutilized or improperly managed equipment.

When choosing whether to buy or rent equipment, hospitals consider different factors: equipment utilization, capital and operating budgets, expected patient census, special therapies needed, estimated cost and staffing for preventative maintenance and repairs, and even storage space available.

24×7: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the strain on clinical staff and budgets in hospitals, and how does USME help alleviate some of these challenges?

Salario: COVID drove up all costs for hospitals, just like it did for you and me. Unfortunately, they also faced loss of clinicians and were stuck with locked-in temporary labor contracts, increased equipment manufacturing pricing, and many other unforeseen costs. Since then, hospitals have been turning to partners like USME who care about and can quickly adapt to their unique needs, such as periods of increased demand. We support hospitals to help them flex their equipment costs as their census fluctuates. When census drops, we have the ability to scan the hospital with our RFID technology to find equipment that is no longer in use so they don’t continue to pay for its rental.

Helping healthcare heroes is a responsibility we take great pride in, and we work every day to find new ways to support them.

24×7: Could you share some examples of how USME has supported hospitals in responding to the demands of previous flu seasons?

Salario: Renting from US Med-Equip, hospitals can quickly secure equipment necessary to provide the highest standard of care, especially during patient census fluctuations. Severe cases of the flu may require intensive care, including mechanical ventilation, and can lead to increased demand for specialty beds to help prevent pressure injuries.

We have countless stories from USME employees who were greeted by nurses and other clinicians waiting for the arrival of life-saving equipment or bariatric beds to help treat their patients. Whether moving equipment from one hospital’s facility to another at no cost or transporting equipment across the country to support another hospital’s needs, during COVID our team did everything in their power to help clinicians serve every patient in need. This is ingrained into the heart of every USME employee.

24×7: What measures is USME taking to ensure a rapid and effective response to hospitals’ equipment needs during this flu season?

Salario: Our focus is the same every single day. We communicate daily with our partners to help assess their equipment needs and provide round-the-clock support 365 days a year. We deliver the equipment right, ready and on time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with a 99.8% fill rate. Our team uses technology to closely track the availability of equipment across the nation to help anticipate demand and ensure that our team working out of 90 locations nationwide can quickly respond to contracted partners’ emerging needs and deliver available equipment within three hours.

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Please note: We do not rent or sell medical equipment for personal use.