To combat a national shortage brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Medline Industries plans to make face masks in North America for the first time. The move diversifies Medline's personal protective equipment supply chain, lessening the company's reliance on Chinese producers.
Medline on Nov. 18 announced plans to modify its plant in suburban Atlanta to produce level 1 ear loop procedure masks starting in January. The plant, which also produces incontinence products, will add 40 employees to its workforce of 420.
Northfield, Ill.-based Medline estimates it eventually will produce 36 million masks per month at the plant in Lithia Springs, Ga. More than 30 hospital systems, skilled nursing facilities and other health care providers have signed on to buy the face masks. Commitments from customers, including Evanston, Ill.-based NorthShore University HealthSystem and CVS Pharmacy, have helped Medline execute its North American manufacturing expansion initiative, the company said in a statement.
"Throughout the pandemic, Medline has been laser-focused on implementing new ideas to combat the national shortage of medical supplies," CEO Charlie Mills said in the statement. "In particular, our customers have a critical need for readily available face masks. This is a significant capital investment in one of our largest manufacturing facilities that will increase the number of face masks Medline can offer to health care facilities and diversifies our PPE supply chain."
This is the second COVID-related manufacturing move this year in North America for Medline, which had $14 billion in revenue last year. In April the company stopped making an antiseptic used during surgical procedures at a 300,000-square-foot Hartland, Wis., plant that's now producing hand sanitizer.