MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hospitals across the nation and here in Minnesota are dealing with a shortage of an essential tool: IV bags that help them administer medications.

The problem started right after Hurricane Maria cut power to manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico. Powerful winds and flying debris wreaked havoc on the island of Puerto Rico last fall.

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Hurricane Maria destroyed homes and devastated commercial buildings as well, including the manufacturing plants of a top supplier of IV bags and the saline that goes inside.

IV bags are a common sight at the bedside of hospital patients. Nurses can add medication to them that it is slowly injected into a patient.

“I have faith that between the health department and all of the hospitals wanting to give the best optimal care, they are all over this,” Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary Turner said.

Turner is the president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, a union representing thousands of registered nurses.

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She says alternative methods are being used until the shortage ends, like using a syringe to administer antibiotics.

“Well now we are having to mix the antibiotic in just a little bit of saline, and then standing at the bedside for three to five minutes and pushing this antibiotic in,” Turner said.

Turner is an intensive care unit nurse and says patients should be aware of the issue, but not be worried.

“Things will be a little bit different, but they should not see any change in their care,” Turner said.

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On Tuesday, we heard from both Allina Health and Fairview Hospitals. Each acknowledged an IV bag shortage, but said their staffs are managing the challenge and they are well-positioned to care for patients.