Hurricane Maria's Devastation in Puerto Rico and the Impact on M - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Hurricane Maria's Devastation in Puerto Rico and the Impact on Medical Supplies in Nevada

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A saline shortage is forcing medical experts to use alternative methods to give patients the product. The shortage is just one more impact of Hurricane Maria devastating Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is a major U.S. supplier of many medical supplies that hospitals rely on, including saline solution.

Silver springs resident “Sheila” is a stage 4 liver-cancer patient. Every three weeks, she receives a prescription-medicine treatment at Carson-Tahoe Cancer Center; however, her last visit was a bit different.

“They told me they had no more saline, so I asked how they were going to flush it, and they said that they have a mixture; they put it into a hypodermic,” said Sheila.

Sheila says her usual saline solution leaves her feeling comfortable and hydrated. She says the new mixture she received left an unsettling metallic taste in her mouth.

“I didn't like it point blank, that's it, done, get it off, get it over, I didn't like the after effects,” said Shiela.

Kelly Schott is a Pharmacy Manager at Carson-Tahoe  who says without looking at Sheila's records, she's not sure why the patient would be left with an after taste. But she does know that the methods the hospital is currently using in place of a saline solution is a completely normal alternative.

“We've had to change a lot of what we'd normally dispense in saline into dextrose solutions,” said Schott. "Sometimes it comes in a premixed bag, sometimes it's something that we are compounding ourselves in our IV room but at this point we have medication."

Schott says as a pharmacist, the saline shortage is very frustrating, but she's doing everything she can to re-stock following Hurricane Maria.

"Sometimes we can get two cases a week, sometimes it may be up to three weeks before we get any, and we probably go through several cases a day, so it's really a struggle at times to find the right solutions,” said Schott.

And it's not just fluids like saline that the hospital has seen a shortage of following the hurricane. Antibiotics, narcotics and potassium are amongst some of the other medications that have been difficult to come by.

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