2 weeks ago in last August 2021, I sat in a drug store getting my annual flu shot. While there I saw a lot of covid home test kits on the shelf. Delta variant hits. This week I went to drug stores and couldn’t find any. A quick query online shows all in town (large US city) are out, and none are available online. There is not even an option to pre-order or even a backorder date. Nothing. Zilch. At work we are suddenly down to a single digit number of testing kits in the hospital that has to last for days until the next shipment. Worse, there is no statement or plan to fix it from the national level. Are they even aware that the nation is running out of test kits? How did this happen?
I grew up in the military before I became a doctor. Early on I learned a maxim that applies to the military and any other effective organization: ‘Lead, follow, or get out of the way.’
When in charge, be I charge, track details, coordinate people and actions, and ensure success. Failure is always the leader’s fault. Success is shared, blame is not.
If not in charge, support and execute the leader’s plan so the organization succeeds.
Get out of the Way:
If not willing to do either step aside and be quiet so those who care can get the mission done.
In a medical emergency, doctors need tools to do their work (equipment, test kits, medications hospital beds, etc). The job of larger organizations in a medical crisis is to keep doctors supplied so they can do their job.
2020 MAR: Democrats criticize Trump for not having covid test kits
2020 APR-NOV: FDA approves test kits for hospitals and later for home use
2020 NOV: Biden wins the presidency
2021 JAN: Biden assumes office of President of the United States
2021 SEP: Biden announces 6 pillars of covid plan, including widespread testing
2021 SEP: Hospitals are short test kits; home test kits are sold out and unavailable
Regarding testing, Biden should have had weekly meetings with the CEOs of companies that make test kits to discuss production capability, availability, reserve of tests for spikes, and any production/distribution problems. When I was at war, I went to nightly meetings with commanders where they went from top to bottom discussing missions, logistics, and the status of solutions for problems real time as they were identified. We even discussed how much fuel was on hand and future shipments of fuel so our vehicles never ran out of fuel. Common sense.
The US has spent trillions (with a T) on covid related bills. With a home kit costing an average of $10 at the checkout line, for $10 Billion of those trillions the government could have had a billion test kits in reserve for hospitals to use and homes to use when the inevitable spikes occurred. The government could have had warehouses of test kits prepositioned around the country to quickly push out during expected periods of higher demand.
Instead, the hospitals I work for are rationing covid testing due to shortages which delays medical decision making, delays diagnosis, endangers patients, and wastes the time of patients and employers/schools (people can’t get tested so cannot return to school/work). The New York Times in AUG 2021 even reported that Abbott destroyed millions of tests and laid-off workers during a lull in the covid pandemic between spikes, contributing to the shortages.
Covid test kits are not a “just in time” item. Just like soldiers don’t get distributed ammunition until after a firefight starts, doctors and the public need access to vast stockpiles of test kits that are available for the spikes not “if” but “when” they happen and the US needs to stop being in react mode.
Biden is not a follower. He and his party did everything they could to sabotage 2020 efforts in the first year of the pandemic. Biden is not a leader. Nearly 2 years into the pandemic, hospitals, and the public should not be without test kits (that problem was identified 18 months ago in March 2020). Maybe Biden should get out of the way and resign.
By: Dr. Smith
Image from: IZ Quotes
Penned under pseudonym due to US Medical organizations trending towards censoring physicians
This letter is the opinion of the author and does not represent the stance of any organizations or corporations