*My Medical Supply Storage & Inventory System*
30 August 2017
I used to throw my medical supplies into totes. The large totes sent into the linen closet and the smaller ones went into the bath cabinet. As much as I tried, it was too overwhelming to organize. AND, I could never find something when needed. PLUS, I was always tripping over my supplies getting to daily-use items.
Then last year I moved all the medical supplies to the Closet Maid Open Cube Organizer. I chose the 9-cube organizer to fit my space but they come in 4, 6, 9 and 12 cubes. I like using the canvas cube inserts to keep everything out of sight. They easily organize everything and in only three feet of floor space.
The canvas cubes are 11"x11"x11" which doesn't sound very large but I've been surprised at how much I can pack into one of these puppies. They are strong in terms of carrying the weight of several Robitussen or NyQuil bottles.
Being medical supplies, I choose red canvas cubes but they come in every imaginable color. In stores, they cost between $5 and $13 each but I found savings at Amazon buying in lots of six for less than $3 each.
The open cube organizer that holds the canvas cubes are available in several colors. They are laminated particleboard and mine are stored in the basement so I cut six pieces of PVC pipe about 1" long. I painted them to match the color of the laminate (mine are black) and set the PVC under the bottom shelf to act as feet, protecting everything from a possible basement water problem.
I stacked one 9-cube organizer on top of another and attached the top organizer to a stud in the wall. (This hardware comes with the organizer.) Find organizers at Target, K-Mart or Wal-Mart for less than $40 for a 9-cube. Watch for sales in early August when kids are equipping college dorms. Sure, I could construct something of better quality but really, these are engineered quite well for the money.
I keep a giant master inventory of everything in my life on EXCEL with one worksheet dedicated to medical supplies. I have so much med-stuff that I only inventory my preferred meds and brands to control a minimum stock. Other meds that come cheap or free are considered barter and are stored in a specific cube.
I take inventory and reorganize medical supplies each fall. That way I'm ready to re-supply when "cold and flu season" coupons and the store sales begin.
I stock according to events and dosages. As an example, let's say a family member catches a cold. One cold is one "event." I know that a cold usually lasts 7 to 10 days. If the dosage is two tablets, every 4 hours, then I know I need 12 tablets a day, or 120 tablets for that event. I like to keep five events per person in inventory. Thus, I need 600 tablets per person in inventory.
This system also works for treating a major bee sting event, removal of debris from the eye, applications of poison ivy itch cream or bandage changes after a major 3" leg gash. I store enough to handle five events for each person in my family of everything I can imagine. If I buy a large quantity, I might vacuum seal items to help retain freshness.
My cube inventory is also home to travel-size and refills for all the bags (BOB, BOV, etc.) as well as a special garage trauma kit, stored near my woodworking tools.
I'm not a medical professional and I can't recommend you do this but for me personally, I'm not a slave to expiration dates. I know that most pharmaceuticals lose their effectiveness over time but few actually "go bad." I don't discard them until they are more than 10 years past expiration date. Do your own research and make your own policy on expiration dates. I buy $25 worth OTC meds each year and rotate the oldest into either barter or the trash.
NOTE: I say "trash" but actually, our health department cheerfully accepts all unwanted meds and will destroy them safely to make sure chemical compounds don't end up in our landfill and water supply.
Cubes also control my maximum inventory. I get most items free or cheap by shopping the sales with coupons. My family is healthy. Therefore, I get a lot and use very little. Most of our pharmaceutical inventory expires before we use it. I pack each cube very efficiently; when my cube is full, I move overages into the Barter Cube. Once the Barter Cube is full, it makes me think twice about if I really want more.
I organize medical supplies into categories. Except for bandages, one cube will usually hold everything I keep in a category. I have two cubes of bandages – they take up a lot of space. In one cube, I remove bandages and gauze from their boxes (they are individually wrapped) and vacuum seal in small bunches to reduce bulk and protect the contents.
With two 9-cube organizers, I have 18 cubes. My categories are:
Rather than to label each cube, which might inspire a curious visitor, I typed an organizer map, labeling each cube, laminated it and stored it on the top shelf. Of course, oversize items (like crutches) aren't able to be stored in cubes but are nearby. That's also listed on the Medical Supplies Map. Now when I actually need something, it's easy to locate it in a hurry.
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