How Public Health Centers Can Prepare for the Next Pandemic
Where We Stand – The Effects of COVID-19 on Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare
COVID-19 has shaken an already fragile U.S. healthcare system to its core. In March 2020, access to many healthcare services were limited or went virtual due to safety concerns – this included sexual and reproductive healthcare.
We have more to learn about how the pandemic affected the public health system, but one thing is clear – it pushed many community health centers to a breaking point. Supply and access issues, as well as staffing shortages and burnout, continue to affect the industry. Health centers of all types remain hyper focused on COVID-19 and last fall, more than 220 health departments told The New York Times they had to temporarily or permanently abandon other public health functions to respond to the pandemic.
“Afaxys serves about 14,000 public and community health centers across the U.S., many of whom had to urgently prioritize COVID-19 testing and care over less acute services like sexual and reproductive health,” says Todd Rodeheaver, Afaxys’ VP of Strategic Corporate Relationships. “Afaxys’ Group Purchasing Organization was established to partner with community and public health clinics to help connect them to affordable options for cost-effective patient care, and we were able to help our customers navigate an uncertain time to meet their patients’ contraceptive needs.”
Below, he outlines recommendations that public health centers can begin developing now, while all of the issues are fresh on our minds, to help mitigate future disruptions:
Have a Crisis Plan
A public health crisis can happen quickly and having a formal response plan can help address shortages of supplies and staff more quickly. By thinking long-term and identifying potential pitfalls, health centers can prepare to face unknown variables – if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s anything can happen, and adaptability is key.
Build Strong Partnerships with Suppliers
Partnering with reliable suppliers that are adaptable and confident in a crisis can further ensure that high-quality patient care is maintained. As experts in community and public health and with demonstrated success in navigating this critical foundation of the healthcare system, Afaxys can help secure a strong diverse portfolio of products.
Power of Technology
Now is the time to invest in integrated technologies for clinic operations. Leveraging technology and systems, like telehealth and virtual prescription platforms, is critical to “staying live” during a crisis response and reducing long-term disruptions to patient care.
Developing a crisis response isn’t easy or fast, but collaborating with community partners, healthcare professionals and reliable suppliers can create a safety net when operations and resources are tested. For public health to stay strong during a crisis, an all-hands approach to ensure that patients have access to quality care and products is needed.
For more information about Afaxys’ GPO, click here.