Helium shortage may affect Coastal Empire hospitals - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Helium shortage may affect area hospitals

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A massive helium shortage is raising major concerns across the country.

It's not only a concern for florists and party shops, the news of a shortage in supply is beginning to cause concern for area hospitals.

Increase in demand, as well as shutdowns and outages at helium-producing plants that supply two-thirds of the world's supply, have contributed to the shortage.

Which is causing a serious problem in the health care industry. Liquid helium is used to cool the most important and sensitive component of an MRI machine, the massive magnet that allows the device to create an image. It's the only element on earth that can effectively keep the machine running. 

Officials at Memorial Health say they have not been directly affected but are monitoring news about the helium crisis.

"We are able to get all supplies that we are needing, but we were warned by Airgas that their were shortages and they were guaranteeing there would be no shortages for our operations," said Memorial Health Executive Director Shared Support Services Tedd Comerford.

The shortage has led health care experts and economists across to country to call for everything from questioning the use of helium in balloons to closing the national reserve and selling off all the current supply as soon as possible.

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