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Bandages? Aspirins? Antacids? SLOC has ‘em

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What do you have if you combine 647 thumb splints, 170,136 antacid tablets, 7,800 tongue depressors and enough bandages to stretch nearly the width of Utah?

Answer: a very small portion of the medical supplies Intermountain Health Care has gathered to stock not only Olympics health clinics but fanny packs for roving medical teams and duffel bags for trainers during the Winter Games.

Tuesday morning, IHC and the Salt Lake Organizing Committee gave local media a peek at the mammoth amount of supplies that have been gathered ? most of them donated ? to provide medical care during Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The medical items also include 3 million bandages, 175 portable defibrillators, 364 exam tables, 10,016 rolls of medical tape, 1,558 ankle braces, 177 tweezers, close to 37,000 pairs of examination gloves, 19,812 doses of liquid antacid, 1,314 arm slings, 720 scissors and 92 stretchers.

Cardinal Health Inc., an official supplier for the Games, and its subsidiary Allegiance Healthcare provided most of the items. Allegiance will also help with inventory so that the Salt Lake Games will be the first to track what was actually used ? helpful information for future host cities, according to Ginny Borncamp, director of medical services for SLOC.

SLOC will sell some of the unopened medical supplies after the Games, Borncamp said. The rest will be donated to local health clinics that serve low-income or homeless people.

For the time being, the items are stored in large tackle boxes and Husky roller toolboxes in a warehouse in a Salt Lake-area industrial park.

IHC will operate two clinics at each of the 16 venues, as well as three others at Olympic-related sites. It has subcontracted with the University of Utah to run the polyclinic in the athlete's Olympic Village. And about 125 mobile medical staff and 150 ski patrol members will carry fanny packs stocked with items like aspirin, bandages and antibiotic cream to provide help to both spectators and athletes at all Olympics sites.

The medical services staff expects about 10,000 patient contacts, based on previous Games' experience. But most of the care will be for simple things like upset stomach or headache, said Douglas Fonnesbeck, IHC Olympic liaison.

Major medical emergencies will be referred to area hospitals, said Dr. Colin K. Grissom, critical care doctor with IHC and director of medical services at Soldier Hollow during the Games. Barring something really unusual, patients at area hospitals won't see much difference during the Games, he added. General care likely won't be impacted at the hospitals, though some clinics and elective procedures may not be scheduled then.

What patients at area hospitals will likely see, however, is increased security during the Games.

One of the biggest challenges has been learning about restricted and prohibited substances so they won't be given to athletes who might as a result of use be disqualified, said Grissom.

IHC Pharmacy Services manager Ben Johnson, who put together the medical kits, has separated out those items so they will only be used on athletes if they're absolutely medically necessary. Even then, the athlete will make the final decision on what treatment he or she receives.

E-mail: lois@desnews.com