Medical supplies shortage hurts children with special needs


Photo courtesy of Sabrina Posadas

Gabriel Posadas, 2, born with with a rare genetic disorder called Larsen’s Syndrome, which affects the development of bones throughout the body.

Denae Ayala, Community News Social Media Editor

From the day Gabriel Posadas was born almost two years ago, his mother, Sabrina Renteria, worried about him.

Among other issues, he had been born with dislocations of the knees and was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Larsen’s Syndrome, which affects the development of bones throughout the body.

But they had a routine and she knew how to care for him. That routine was turned upside down in late March, when Renteria received a letter from SuperCare Health, her son’s medical supply equipment company to inform her of a medical supply shortage they are facing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I kind of expected this to happen…when I saw the news there was already a ventilator circuit shortage. I was just shocked this was actually happening to us,” Renteria said in an interview on April 18. “What were we going to do if the one that we get just breaks?”

Ventilator circuits, which Renteria usually replaces each week to keep Gabriel safe and sanitary, will now be replaced every month — meaning they’d go from four ventilator circuits a month to just one. 

The ventilator circuit is what connects to Gabriel’s at-home ventilator, allowing him to breathe. The shortage means the circuits will get dirty fast, turning them a dark gray, which is not good for Gabriel’s lungs. 

At least 3,000 children in California rely on ventilators, according to the California Association of Medical Product Suppliers. Still others rely on protective gear and other medical supplies that are also facing shortages.

“COVID-19 has been disruptive to all families, but the effects of school closures, medical equipment shortages and social distancing are further amplified for families of children with disabilities,” according to a story in The Conversation by Michelle Phoenix, an assistant professor in the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. 

Despite the crisis and shortage of supply Renteria’s main focus is to keep her son safe and healthy. 

“There’s just so many emotions, but I won’t let that get in the way. This is our everyday life,” she said. “I know I’m not the only special needs family out there, and I am just hoping everything goes back to normal for everybody.”

The full story is available in this podcast:

Gabriel Posada’s life in images and video

Community News reporters are enrolled in JOUR 3910 – University Times. They produce stories about under-covered neighborhoods and small cities on the Eastside and South Los Angeles. Please email feedback, corrections and story tips to [email protected]