HCA Healthcare (NYSE: HCA), one of the nation's leading healthcare providers, today announced that it has entered into a new joint venture business with A Plus International Inc. (A Plus), a global manufacturer of healthcare products, to expand access to personal protective equipment (PPE) by manufacturing surgical and procedure masks in the United States. Under the partnership, production of Level 1 and Level 3 masks meeting American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for quality and safety is expected to begin in early 2021 from a manufacturing center in Asheville, North Carolina.
Investment in the new business entity will initially be funded equally by HCA Healthcare Mission Fund, LLC, an affiliate of HCA Healthcare, and A Plus. The new business entity is part of HCA Healthcare's continued effort to support healthcare workers and address the global demand for PPE. HCA Healthcare's 2020 spending for PPE increased by more than $196 million from 2019.
"The recent surge in demand for PPE due to the pandemic has underscored how dependent we have been on supplies from overseas and the importance of working to diversify our supply chain," said Dr. Jonathan Perlin, president, clinical operations group, and chief medical officer of HCA Healthcare. "We are thrilled to join forces with the expertise of A Plus on this new business which is focused on domestic manufacturing of PPE so that we can continue to support our caregivers on the front line."
HCA Healthcare's investment in the business is being funded through the HCA Healthcare Mission Fund, an innovation fund created following HCA Healthcare's purchase of Mission Health to support healthcare-related businesses in Western North Carolina. The new business' headquarters and production facility will be located on one of Mission Health's campuses in Asheville and will bring skilled jobs to the area.
"Asheville has a diverse and skilled workforce with the experience to produce these important protective supplies that keep caregivers safe," said Greg Lowe, president of HCA Healthcare's North Carolina Division. "Thanks to the HCA Healthcare Mission Fund, we are honored to welcome this new business to our campus, and we are excited for the job opportunities for our community."
Supporting the supply chain of hospitals and non-acute providers, HealthTrust, a global leader in purchasing aggregation and performance improvement for healthcare, will co-manage the joint venture with A Plus. HealthTrust's wholly owned subsidiary, Resource Optimization & Innovation (ROi), will serve as the distribution partner for the business, providing access to PPE inventories to HealthTrust member organizations throughout the U.S.