For those with chronic conditions like sleep apnea, a medical device like a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine isn't just for comfort. They need it to live healthily, with the highest quality of life possible for their condition.
While some may think of snoring as only an annoyance to other people in the house, for a person with sleep apnea, snoring means they're struggling to get enough oxygen. But recent supply chain issues have impacted even the most vital medical devices like the CPAP. And Pembroke, North Carolina, health care company HealthKeeperz has found itself in a position to help patients and their families navigate this shortage.
It can be a matter of life or death. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “A CPAP… machine is one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea. It keeps your airways open while you sleep so you can receive the oxygen you need for optimal function. CPAP machines can significantly improve sleep quality and reduce your risk for a number of health issues, including heart disease and stroke.”
HealthKeeperz recognizes that it’s not constructive to blame supply chain issues. Patients need solutions now, so companies have to adapt.
One strategy the family-owned homecare and medical equipment provider has been using is giving patients travel CPAPs in the interim. This isn't ideal because some travel models don’t have the extras people need, like humidifiers. For those dependent on a CPAP, a travel model can tide them over until they get the new CPAP they need.
Another challenge arises when CPAP owners need to replace their old machines. They may find out-of-pocket costs have risen dramatically, and purchasing a new CPAP may strain their budget.
HealthKeeperz has advised patients and families not to give in to the temptation to buy a used machine. CPAPs require regular cleaning and maintenance, and a prospective new owner has no way of knowing if the previous owner diligently cared for the machine. Mold, mildew, and even viruses can grow in CPAP machines due to humidity and saliva exposure which can be dangerous for the sensitive airways of a CPAP user.
HealthKeeperz wants those struggling to pay to know that financial and community support are often available, And the company helps patients find resources to offset some of the cost.
Since the start of the pandemic, shortages and supply chain issues have become commonplace — ships stuck in ports, employee retention problems, and COVID-19 protocols have all made it harder to keep supplies moving. The pandemic devastated many companies and industries, not to mention families, so it may take some time to recover.
In this case, the most significant reason for CPAP shortages is the difficulty in acquiring the microchips that manage the intricate electronic components. The U.S. sources these chips from other countries and is therefore vulnerable to shortages abroad.
Industry leaders have asked those securing the chips to prioritize their use in medical equipment. But the shortages are expected to continue into next year, and these days, it can take up to five months to get a CPAP.
At this time, HealthKeeperz says it hasn’t seen much improvement in supply, and time is of the essence.
HealthKeeperz is dedicated to the well-being of the community. Says President Tim Brooks, “HealthKeeperz employs nearly 200 incredibly talented and compassionate people who serve communities across North Carolina, and we continue to value and uphold our commitment to patients above all else.”
Even if a patient’s life isn't dependent on the CPAP, these machines allow sufferers to get better quality sleep. The device provides more than just comfort or snore prevention; it’s a priority for the health of anyone who’s prescribed one.
The importance of sleep can't be ignored. Over a period of time, people who don’t get quality sleep can develop long-term health conditions like hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, dementia, liver issues, cognitive problems, mood swings, a compromised immune system, and even early death.
As a faith-based health care company, HealthKeeperz has been in business for more than half a century. “HealthKeeperz has truly evolved over the years,” Brooks told IdeaMensch. “Howard Brooks (my dad) started a community pharmacy in Pembroke, North Carolina, and expanded the services over the years. He essentially sought to meet the needs of the community and provide for his family. Thankfully, the community responded quite well and we have since been able to expand our services beyond the pharmacy.”