Chapters Health System has partnered with Port Richey, Fla.-based The Point Distillery to help address ongoing hand sanitizer shortages for their hospice staff.
Hospices and other health care providers have been plagued with widespread supply shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. Providers have been in dire need of additional supplies, with personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection control products as a top priority, including the alcohol-based hand rubs. In addition to scarcity, the huge global demand for those products has driven up prices considerably.
“The [supply shortages] are very real. It’s been impossible to find sanitizer in the area, so it’s very much a real need. For them to be able to provide this was truly helping us at all of our affiliates, not just our hospice affiliate,” Chapters Professional Relations Representative Jen Chianella told Hospice News. “I think sometimes hospice heroes sometimes get left behind. We see the frontline in the hospitals, but many don’t remember that hospices are still caring for people’s loved ones. That does not stop during a crisis, and we still need that protection. To have people remember us by allowing us to be at the top of the list for those drums of sanitizer has really made a big difference.”
Chapters Health System provides hospice, palliative care and home health services throughout Florida, as well as durable medical equipment and pharmacy services. Hospice and palliative care brands affiliated with Chapters include Chapters Health Palliative Care, Good Shepherd Hospice, Hospice of Okeechobee, HPH Hospice and LifePath Hospice.
The Point Distillery indicated that it would prioritize providing sanitizer to the hospice, Chianella said. To support the process, Chapters provided The Point with protective gloves that they needed in order to make the alcohol-based hand rub.
“They promised me that as soon as they got the manufacturing rights [from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)] to start producing, they would certainly give Chapters Health whatever amount that we needed, and that’s exactly what happened,” Jen said. “We were able to share the kind of medical grade gloves they needed so they could continue to manufacture. This wasn’t something that they would use in their normal operations.”
Chapters purchased five 53-gallon drums of sanitizer, which the distillery produced within the space of three weeks. The distillery sold the product at cost.
The Point Distillery worked with the FDA to ensure their processes for manufacturing the sanitizer were safe and effective. Transitioning from making beverages to sanitizer did not require a great deal of retooling, the distillery recognized early on that they may be called upon to make emergency products during a disaster.
“I knew that this was something that could come up somewhere down the line, like after hurricanes. You have to make certain products that can be used for sanitizing or cleaning,” Frank Dibley, co-owner of The Point, told Hospice News. “We should do that because we need to be able to help our county and the surrounding area in the event of an emergency.”
Chapters Health obtained the amount of sanitizer they needed, according to Chianella, but the distillery is continuing to make sanitizer for other health care providers, first responders and other essential services. In one example, The Point provided sanitizer to utility workers who were doing a job in a U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention facility. They are not providing sanitizer to the general public.
“We’re going to work with all hospices, rest homes, doctors’ offices, or hospitals that want us to work with them, and we are selling our product at the cost of production,” Dibley said. “We are not adding profit margin to hand sanitizer because we felt it was our public duty.”