Imaging contrast is hard to come by right now
The health care industry in Western New York and beyond is grappling with yet another shortage.
No, we’re not talking about workers this time, though that remains a huge issue that won’t get resolved any time soon.
This time, we’re talking about imaging contrast dye.
It’s a substance that is either swallowed by or injected in a patient so that radiologists can better visualize blood vessels, tissues and organs, helping them to diagnose potential problems.
You might be familiar with it if you’ve had a computed tomography (CT) scan where your provider used contrast to highlight certain areas of your body. Not all CT scans, however, require contrast dye.
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What’s causing the shortage?
The recently lifted Covid-19 lockdown in Shanghai, China, took a GE Healthcare plant there temporarily offline.
The plant is a major supplier of iodinated IV contrast dye.
And, as we know by now, any change in the supply chain has ripple effects – such as potential delays in the roughly 50 million exams with contrast agents that are done annually in the United States.
GE Healthcare said on June 2 that it expected production capacity from its Shanghai facility to be close to 100% starting June 6.
But it will take a while to stabilize the global supply of its iodinated contrast media, an imaging agent that contains iodine.
How are providers adapting?
The good news is Western New York’s health care providers have had a lot of practice during the pandemic of quickly pivoting.
Dr. Michael Mineo, interim chief medical officer at Kaleida Health, said the system put its stakeholders together as soon as it learned the shortage was going to happen.
That plan has included looking at alternatives such as doing exams without contrast when the imaging agent is not needed.
Kaleida also partners with Great Lakes Medical Imaging, which Mineo said uses a different company, Bracco, as its supplier and was not hit as hard by the shortage. That allowed Kaleida to shift some of its outpatient imaging to Great Lakes.
“We’ve been able to come up with ways to mitigate the effects to our patients,” Mineo said.
Dane Franklin, director of imaging services at Catholic Health System, said the system has resorted to contrast conservation methods and also has pushed its outpatient contrast CT scans to some imaging providers that use different suppliers within Catholic Medical Partners, a partnership between Catholic Health and a network of associated physicians.
“We are starting to see some contrast come over,” Franklin said. “It’s just not as much as we’re historically used to receiving.”
In an FAQ on its website about the shortage, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center notes that other types of imaging, such as MRIs and ultrasounds, are not affected. It also noted that there is often acceptable alternatives to a CT scan with contrast in many cases.
The cancer center expects the shortage to linger well into the summer months.
“On a national level, we need to make sure this supply issue is short-lived,” said Dr. Ermelinda Bonaccio, Roswell Park’s chair of diagnostic and interventional radiology. “We need the heightened awareness this situation has brought to the importance of better planning and coordination for critical medical resources like these contrast dyes.”
This shortage is yet another example of how brittle the supply chain can become, especially when manufacturers consolidate so much of their production into one facility and when health care facilities purchase a product from a single source for efficiency and better pricing.
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Who: Cassandra Church, chief nursing officer at Kaleida Health’s Oishei Children’s Hospital, has accepted a job as executive vice president and chief nursing officer for Children’s Health, a major pediatric health care provider in Dallas. Church, Oishei’s chief nursing officer since January 2020, will remain with the Buffalo institution through the end of July to ensure a smooth transition – and, as a side benefit, I’m sure, to enjoy a Buffalo summer before diving into the Texas heat.
Who’s next: Christina Mills, director of perioperative services for Oishei, has been named interim chief nursing officer. A search for a permanent chief nursing officer will begin immediately, with the goal of naming a permanent successor by the fall.
What’s the boss say: “This is an incredible growth opportunity for Cassie and a true testament to her leadership and skills that she has passionately shared with OCH and our entire community since 2016, when she joined the team to oversee the clinical training and education of the move of Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo to the new Ellicott Street location,” Oishei President Allegra Jaros said in a statement.
Catch up on news tied to Buffalo Niagara’s economy
Four of the 22 large-scale renewable energy projects across the state will be in Western New York, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul, who announced plans for powering more than 620,000 homes for at least 20 years.
A Cheektowaga-based stainless steel pipe maker wants to expand its Walden Avenue warehouse in Lancaster as part of a $7.65 million project and is asking the town’s industrial development agency for tax breaks to help pay for it.
Longtime president and CEO of the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County Michael Weiner will retire at the end of 2022, after 13 years in the post and a 48-year career in health and human services in Western New York.
After a series of recent mass shootings, including one at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue, a coalition of business groups in the state, including the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, is chiming in on the issue, calling for Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban.
Facing default on the $237 million loan it owes on the Walden Galleria property, mall owner Pyramid Management Group has reached an agreement on a three-year extension with its lenders.
The Seventh-Day Adventist Church at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Genesee Street purchased three key parcels of land from the City of Buffalo for $100,000. The land is needed for the building of a sanctuary for the Emmanuel Temple Church.
Russell Salvatore Jr., the grandson of one of Buffalo’s most prominent restaurateurs, wants to construct a two-story building with 11 apartments and 5,200 square feet of commercial space at the corner of Main Street and Winding Lane in Clarence, as well as a separate farmers market building.
A new network of emergency medical physicians, dubbed the Emergency Physician Response Program, will be available to respond to high-severity 911 calls and mass casualty incidents in Erie and Niagara counties.
Redevelopment of a derelict and fire-damaged industrial property on the shores of Scajaquada Creek by Savarino Companies hit a snag after neighbors and Buffalo Planning Board members raised concerns about the increased traffic and safety risk that it might cause.
In an effort to remain competitive in a growing venture capital landscape, Buffalo startup accelerator 43North will invest $1 million in five companies as part of this year’s annual competition.
Former 43North company Rally, which specializes in bus ridesharing for events, will become publicly traded later this year after entering into a business combination agreement with Americas Technology Acquisition Corp. Rally won $500,000 in the 2019 startup contest.
A large grocery store won’t be coming to the proposed Elmwood Crossing after Ellicott Development Co. and Sinatra & Co. Real Estate eliminated it from their ambitious $150 million project to convert the former Women’s and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo into a mixed-use community.
Between the gas tax initiatives by both the county and state, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he expects gas prices in the county to go down by up to 30 cents a gallon.
The University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School is one of the institutions that’s been chosen to take part in a clinical trial of Paxlovid, a Covid-19 medicine being evaluated by Pfizer in children ages 12 to 17. Research has already shown it reduces the risk of hospitalization or death in adults by 88% if given within five days of the onset of Covid-19 symptoms.
The owners of the Eastern Hills Mall in Clarence will save more than $2.4 million in property taxes over 10 years after reaching an agreement to lower the property taxes on the struggling mall while they work to redevelop it into a mixed-use town center.
Buffalo Next reporters Jonathan D. Epstein, Jon Harris, Natalie Brophy, Matt Glynn, Janet Gramza and Mike Petro contributed to this roundup.
Five reads from Buffalo Next:
1. 43North aiming to attract high-growth companies to the region: Sam Eder moved to Buffalo from Austin, Texas, in January after his company Big Wheelbarrow won the 43North startup contest. Stipulating winning companies set up shop in Buffalo for at least a year is an important aspect of 43North’s mission.
2. Mixed-use development coming to Old First Ward: Developers Karl Frizlen and Michael Masters are in the midst of turning the former Barcalo Manufacturing plant into Barcalo Living & Commerce, a mixed-use community in the Old First Ward that dozens of tenants soon will call home.
3. Tops Markets on Jefferson Avenue will reopen, but what that will look like is uncertain: As Tops officials plan for the reopening of its Jefferson Avenue store after a tragic mass shooting, when and how it will do so is still being considered as some community members want a new Tops store at a different location on Buffalo’s East Side.
4. Doctor recognized for providing aid in strife-torn regions: Dr. Aaron Epstein has been splitting his life between surgical shifts in Buffalo and leading the humanitarian aid group he founded in 2015. Now, he’s in line for one of the nation’s top civilian awards.
5. Rachel’s Mediterranean grill expands beyond Buffalo home: Rachel’s has made it big in Western New York, and the family-owned business is now trying to expand the concept down the Thruway in New York and in larger markets such as Fort Worth, Texas.
The Buffalo Next team gives you the big picture on the region’s economic revitalization. Email tips to email@example.com or reach Deputy Business Editor David Robinson at 716-849-4435.
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