Take that Big National Medical Equipment Company!

Ok, so you may remember a few weeks ago I was complaining about our Big National Medical Equipment Company’s new shipping policy of our medical supplies. Especially our life saving and life supporting supplies.

Well what did I find on my porch today but our neo-sucker!

One neo-sucker.

Now a neo-sucker is not life saving or supporting. While useful, it  is not essential or really all that important in this house.

This is a trinket.

It’s a toy, a 30 cent piece of plastic.

It’s a neo-sucker.

Like I said it’s useful. When Liam is sick or particularly congested the neo-sucker is a great tool to attach to our suction rig to get at all that stuff in his nose or the back of his mouth but it’s nothing a ball syringe available at any drug store can’t do.

“So why Eric are you now complaining that the good medical equipment company rushed out this non-essential but useful piece of your medical arsenal? They can’t win with you can they?” You may be asking. And I’m glad you did because here is why…

One neo-sucker.

All that packaging, and the trucking, and the UPS Shipping of one neo-sucker.

I have plenty of neo-suckers. We’ve been getting up to a dozen neo-suckers per month for the last 2 years. They are understandably disposable in a hospital setting but at home, and only being used by Liam (and sometimes his Mom.) we can boil neo-suckers. We can clean them, we can re-use them, WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY!

Anyway, neo-suckers usually come in packs of twelve shoved in a big huge order of dozens of other little tubes, filters, and miscellany. All told it adds up to 6 to 8 boxes of hundreds of individually wrapped supplies. So why is this teeny-tiny-neosucker getting its very own cardboard box? Why is this little guy given his very own UPS ride out to my house all by himself?

Because Big National Medical Equipment Company doesn’t care.

I’m sure that at Target or Amazon or any other type of Big National [fill in the blanks] Supply having all your products boiled down to UPC codes and numbers is an efficient and streamlined way of automating shipments. In medical supply, some pieces are more important than others. In medical supply running out of one product is an inconvenience while running out of another is an ambulance ride. In medical supply one piece of plastic can be just plastic while another can be a life.

There needs to be some kind of prioritizing of pieces. It is boxes like this at my door that remind me that the supplies that mean so much to the health of my child and countless other patients are simply numbers on a screen to Big National Medical Equipment Company.

This neo-sucker is not the first instance. We once received a three-inch piece of tape in similar packaging. It’s called teddy bear tape and it helps to hold the pulse oximeter sensor in place on Liam’s foot. Let’s be honest though, it’s tape. a small roll of athletic tape will do the job but teddy bear tape comes pre cut in three-inch strips in packs of 100. We’ve received ONE THREE INCH STRIP OF TAPE on non-stick paper sent UPS to my house.

Every time I get one of these ridiculous packages where the shipping obviously cost excessively more than the value of the contents I think of AJ.

AJ was our delivery man for medical supplies before Big National Medical Equipment Company bought Small Regional Medical Equipment Company. AJ would deliver our 8 to 12 boxes each month and fill our oxygen tanks every other week.  He’d let us know what products were on backorder and ask if there was anything else we needed. AJ would check in on Liam and say hi to him every single time he came to the house.  Aj would run equipment we needed in an emergency when we needed it.

Can you tell we liked AJ?

Well AJ doesn’t have a job anymore. Apparently it’s more cost-effective to have cranky UPS man who tosses boxes on the porch without knowing or caring what’s inside, who can’t tell us if any of our supplies are backordered or delayed and has no idea when they may be on their way. Now we get packages with one neo-sucker inside.

I keep asking myself how many packages containing a single product that costs only pennies could have been delivered for free on AJ’s truck as he came to my house to fill my oxygen tank?

I may not run a big national medical company but I’ve run enough kitchens to know that if your to-go container costs you more than the food you put inside it you’re doing it wrong. I don’t care how big your company is I’d be surprised if you could show me numbers to convince me otherwise.

I suppose if most of our supplies came UPS but we still had someone who could run emergency equipment out to us if needed there’d be less of a problem but we don’t even have that. Ventilator circuits or suction catheters, Teddy Bear Tape or Neo-suckers it’s all the same to Big Medical Equipment Company.

It’s all just numbers on a screen.


  1. It seems that you’ve identified a common problem in managing personal care (health, foodservice, education, and the like). Management relies on quantification. There is not yet an accepted measure of avoided costs. The corollary also exists; there is no accepted measure of the value to the recipient of personal service. This means that what your driver did for you has no value to the management of Big National and he must therefore be eliminated even if the result is the death of Liam because the algorithms used by the computer programer could not take into account the real right now needs and the real right now delivery capabilities and you got a pretty 3 inch band-aid delivered today instead of a critical part that will get delivered tomorrow.

    One possible way to inject personal responsibility back into the mix is to have Big National pay for the ambulance rides that they create by being penny-wise and pound foolish. A couple of those each month on the balance sheet each month should provide the same response that comped meals and negative comments do at BigChainRestaurants.

    As for you; maybe the best answer is to take the dollars away from Big National (lost sales also tend to get management’s attention) and find another medical supplier (or two). You can probably manage the “regular” stuff better using online retailers and I bet arrangements could be made with an independent pharmacy/ medical supply store to stock critical parts. If the machine is prescribed; they’ll even bill the appropriate BigAllopathEntity. There are those stores up here in the boonies, so there should be some in the Megalopolis. They deliver, too!

    Love and Light

  2. Even if sixty is “the new forty” and baby boomers are staying healthier and more active until later in their lives, their age does catch up with them sometimes. Meanwhile, their parents are living longer and staying more active, too; but old joints wear out and old bodies need repair. An aging population has generated unprecedented demand for medical equipment, especially equipment specially adapted for home care

  3. This type of packaging is designed to be environmentally friendly and is usually manufactured from ‘Bioplastics’ these are essentially a form of plastic derived from sources such as corn starch, soy bean oil and hemp oil, where as your everyday plastic is derived from petroleum. Bioplastics are regarded as a more sustainable activity, they do not rely as heavily on fossil fuel imports like traditional plastic does and produce far less greenhouse emissions.

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