The U.S. has been facing a baby formula shortage since early in the year when a major manufacturer shut down its plant in Michigan due to possible bacterial contamination. (Associated Press)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Bayfront Health St. Petersburg’s Baby Place hasn’t seen its baby formula supply dwindle due to an ongoing national shortage, but its director of nursing said that doesn’t mean they’re not preparing for a possible impact.

What You Need To Know

  • The director of nursing for Bayfront Health St. Petersburg’s Baby Place says they haven’t been impacted by the nationwide formula shortage yet
  • Baby Place is cutting back on how much formula they send home with parents who are formula feeding to conserve their supply
  • Normally, Baby Place would turn to sister hospitals and affiliates to borrow from their supplies if they did face a shortage
  • Representatives of AdventHealth and BayCare say their Tampa Bay hospitals also haven’t been impacted by the shortage

“We give each one of our moms who are formula feeding a little bit of formula just to tide them over until they can maybe get to the grocery store a few days after they get home from delivery,” said Director of Nursing Sharmane Andrews. “Because of the shortage, we’re just being mindful of how much formula we’re giving just to kind of last as we prepare, that there is a shortage and we may not be able to get as much formula as we used to.”

Andrews said she understands the struggle some parents are facing because she’s going through it herself.

“I have a 6-month-old, and, you know, I have to go to the grocery store just like everyone else, and I’m limited to how much formula I can buy, as well,” she said. “We’re all just bracing for the day that we hear that it’s here and we’re not able to get what we’re used to.”

If that day comes, Andrews said Baby Place would normally reach out to sister hospitals and affiliates to borrow from their supplies.

“That’s what we do as health care systems — you know, support one another,” she said. “We haven’t gotten there yet, but at this point, I think it’s just a waiting game.”

Representatives with AdventHealth and BayCare Health System said their Tampa Bay hospitals also haven’t yet been impacted by the formula shortage.

Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo is urging the Food and Drug Administration to speed up the process of getting production restarted at Abbott Nutrition, which produces the majority of formula in the U.S. Production at the company’s Sturgis, Mich., plant was shut down after a warning and voluntary recall of formula produced there.

The recall was put in place after four children were sickened — and two died — after suspected bacterial contamination of formula from the Sturgis plant.

In a sharply-worded letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf, Ladapo blamed the shortage on the FDA’s “lack of oversight” and called for updates on the reopening process for the plant, which has been shut down since February.

Ladapo wrote, in part:

“Time is of the essence to restart production at the Abbott facility, yet the FDA has failed to produce any preliminary findings necessary to begin the reopening process.”

He also noted that the Florida Department of Health is ready to help in any way possible to “expedite a resolution.”

The White House announced a plan Thursday to ease the formula shortage by working with manufacturers to get more back shelves across the country as quickly and safely as possible. 

“The steps the president took today are an acknowledgment and a recognition that more needs to be done, that we do not want parents, mothers, families out there to be stressed and worried about feeding their babies,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday. “We’re going to cut every element of red tape we can cut, we’re going to work with manufacturers, we’re going to import more to expedite this as quickly as possible.”

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