Ellen Dingley has worked for Hometown Healthcare for five years now.
Her job is to make sure homebound patients always have the equipment they need to carry out their daily lives. But not always having the necessary supplies has made that challenging.
“We want them to be able to have that security and want them to know that they can have what they need," Dingley said. "And like I said before, it’s getting tougher and tougher."
What You Need To Know
- Hometown Healthcare provides medical equipment for patients who want to receive care at home rather than the hospital
- Rising prices for medical supplies have made it hard for home medical equipment companies to keep up with demand
- Legislation is in the works to help stabilize prices for HME companies
She recently went to see Corey Milano, whom she’s worked with for five years. He is a high-flow patient, meaning he depends heavily on his oxygen. He said when there is an issue with his equipment, it’s unbearable.
“To feel so horribly, and yet to have somebody come out here as fast as they do to correct the problem if there is one, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it,” Milano said.
Hometown Healthcare is a medical equipment provider that serves over 10,000 patients yearly, many of which require their equipment daily to survive. With supply chain issues making these devices scarce, Dingley said there’s no alternative for her patients.
“It’s not fair to the patients. It’s not fair to this business. It just isn’t,” Dingley said.
Back at the warehouse, CEO and President Cal Toomajian showed how many shelves are sitting at only half capacity. It’s the first time in the company’s 17-year history that prices have reached such record highs.
“These have gone up significantly in price, any oxygen tube has gone up in price and even worse than that, you can’t even get some of these things anymore,” Toomajian said.
But it’s not just the oxygen tubes that are increasing in price and decreasing in availability.
“Everything is more expensive, everything is delayed in terms of getting here and patient demand is up,” Toomajian said.
He said the industry sets predetermined prices that don’t account for operating expenses. He fears the lack of affordable and available equipment might put some people back in the hospital, rather than their homes.
As Ringley continued her route, she couldn't help but think about the people the shortage was impacting.
“When I say some people, their lives do depend on it. We have to do what we have to do,” Dingley said.