NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A study at Vanderbilt University's School of Nursing is looking at how hospitals use their on-hand personal protective equipment. Researchers believe it could help prevent another PPE shortage.
"Automating that information can allow for the right questions to be asked about supply chain... in order to route maybe some of the supplies coming into the country or being made and get that to the right people," Kelly Aldrich said.
Kelly Aldrich, an associate professor of nursing informatics at Vanderbilt University, was tapped by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the nation's PPE supply.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, shortages at hospitals put health care providers and patients at risk of exposure.
"It is alarming, but what we're trying to do is find the good in the patterns of the data so they can be informed," Aldrich said about her team's research.
With graduate students and colleagues, Aldrich is studying how quickly different types of medical facilities use surgical masks, face shields and N-95 masks.
Her research actually started before the COVID-19 pandemic, putting her in a position to know what information to begin collecting from hospitals in May 2020. Over 15 weeks, 78 hospitals submitted data for the study. Some of the findings have been published.
In the future, getting the nearly 7,000 hospitals in the country to share data about their inventories would likely have to involve policymakers, however, Aldrich thinks the pros outweigh the cons.
"So that the nurses and the doctors and care teams are protected as they're caring for patients," she said.
Aldrich's team received $80,000 from the CDC to conduct their research.