Where are my supplies?: As USPS gear up for changes, patients fear major delays in vital medicine delivery

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Amid a global pandemic and looming to changes to what is said to already be a financially struggling U.S. Postal Service, anxiety remains high among many Americans.

For those with medical conditions that require specific medicine and medical supplies, the future of our mail system is extremely concerning, and the effects are already being felt in Utah. Individuals who are diabetic depend on the Postal Service to deliver Insulin and other critical needs that in many cases are needed to save their lives.

Utah’s #insulin4all chapter lead, Stephanie Arceneaux tells ABC4 that Insulin which is temperature-sensitive needs to arrive at its destination cool. Other medical supplies are also needed to administer insulin and check blood sugar, deliveries to rural areas throughout the state are being affected. The most gleaming concern is that 90% of veterans receive their medical needs through the United States Postal Service. “If insulin is delayed, for someone with Type 1 diabetes, it can become a life or death situation quite quickly, they need it constantly and can’t miss it for even one day,” said Arceneaux.

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas.

On Tuesday, August 18, U.S. Postmaster General Louis Dejoy made an announcement suspending the controversial changes until after the election.

Even with many changes halted until later in the year, the fear of diabetic patients experiencing delayed deliveries of their medical supplies will not go away. This is especially true for those living in rural areas of Utah who rely on the USPS for deliveries, as they have no other choice. Many supplies are only able to be delivered through mail order.

Stephanie Arceneaux explains that depending on a person’s medical coverage, many insulin pump supplies that are often only covered by insurance through durable medical equipment, the diabetic patient would only receive those supplies through a supplier in the mail, “you can’t just go down to your local pharmacy and pick those up” said Arceneaux.

A patient’s insurance and who they are allowed to use for a supplier may also determine how long it takes for an individual to get their supplies in a normal situation without the threat of changes to the postal service. Arceneaux says while there are some providers who send out durable medical equipment in the state of Utah, but many are in other places throughout the country. “Since a person can’t change their insurance at any time, the patient must rely on what they already have set up, so mail delays are absolutely unacceptable” added Stephanie Arceneaux.

Utah’s #insulin4all chapter is concerned that once changes to the postal service are activated, those who depend on insulin including veterans may be at risk for long waits in receiving their medical supplies.

The Chapter says thy’re just trying to create awareness before they start seeing deaths in Utah.

According to Arceneaux, the Utah chapter has several individuals that have experienced delays in receiving their insulin supplies, upwards of 7-10 days late on their deliveries. She tells ABC4 that at one time her insurance also required that she get insulin and other diabetes supplies through mail order. “I couldn’t use a local pharmacy to fill my prescriptions, a mail delay at that time could have left me without vital medications and caused me to experience life-threatening complications,” said Arceneaux.

However, Stephanie Arceneaux says luckily the Utah chapter has a strong community of people who also have diabetes so if need be, individuals can help one another out, “but to be honest we shouldn’t have to, the supplies should just arrive on time like they always have” said Arceneaux.

ABC4 did reach out to the United States Postal Service on the matter and was told the following:

We are unaware of any widescale delays, although short term COVID impacts in pockets may affect our employee availability like any other business. The Postal Service is concerned any time we do not provide the level of service our customers expect and deserve.  We apologize for any inconvenience and encourage anyone with a postal issue to call our customer care line at 800-ASK-USPS (800-275-8777).  This allows us the opportunity to address the specific problem as well as document the occurrence.  Every customer experience and every piece of mail is important to the Postal Service.

As part of T1International, a nonprofit organization whose leaders have or are impacted by Type 1 Diabetes. The Utah Chapter says they hope legislatures will urge the new Postmaster general to ensure there are no mail delays, as people’s lives depend on the Postal Service to deliver medical supplies.

“We need them to make sure that post office is operated as the public service that it is and was enshrined in the United States Constitution as,” said Arceneaux.

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Tracy Smith
Curtis Booker, joined the ABC4 family in January of 2019 as a Digital Content Producer. In May of 2019, he transitioned into learning the inner workings of becoming a news producer assisting with various shows. Curtis most recently rejoined the Digital team as a multi-media journalist in February of 2020.

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