HCA Healthcare launched a joint venture to produce masks from Asheville, N.C., the hospital chain announced Thursday.
HCA has teamed up with A Plus International, a Chino, Calif.-based healthcare equipment manufacturer, to supply surgical and procedure masks in early 2021. The companies will equally fund the joint venture via the HCA Healthcare Mission Fund, which was created following HCA's acquisition of Mission Health to support healthcare-related businesses in Western North Carolina.
"The recent surge in demand for PPE due to the pandemic has underscored how dependent we have been on supplies from overseas and the importance of working to diversify our supply chain," Dr. Jonathan Perlin, HCA chief medical officer and president of its clinical operations group, said in prepared remarks, noting that HCA's PPE expenses increased by nearly $200 million in 2020.
The venture follows other health systems' investment in domestic PPE and pharmaceutical production after the COVID-19 pandemic throttled overseas manufacturing. Providers aim to diversify their supply chains with more U.S. or near-shore equipment manufacturers to mitigate their over-reliance on low-cost goods produced in China, among other international sources.
HealthTrust, the group purchasing subsidiary of HCA, will use its Resource Optimization & Innovation business to build out the joint venture's distribution strategy for the GPO's customers.
For more context, check out Modern Healthcare's Beyond the Byline podcast on how COVID-19 impacted the healthcare supply chain.