After Hurricane Maria, a saline shortage has impacted hospitals across the United States, including in Central New York. 

A large portion of the country’s saline comes from Puerto Rico. 

“This is unprecedented because we’ve had drug shortages on and off for the last five years. But we always had an alternative,” Bernie Delello, the pharmacy director at St. Joseph’s Health, said. “[This] affects all medications, so this is really unprecedented.”

Delello said there are some benefits to the shortage. The hospital used to primarily use mini-bags of saline, now they put the liquid in syringes to deliver medication.

It uses less of the solution and is just as effective, according to Delello. 

Still, there is a wake up call for the entire pharmaceutical industry after the shortage. 

“I think what’s going to happen is that this country is going to take a hard look at the drug distribution model and say ‘we need to have some more redundancy,” Delello said. 

Then, in the event of another natural disaster, the country is not only relying on just a few sources of saline.