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Supply and demand – an enterprisewide effort

Published: May 15, 2020
Many UF Health employees have taken time out of their days to make masks for support personnel. View Larger Image
The UF Center for Simulation Education and Safety Research has developed a safe way to create face shields. View Larger Image
Carol Motycka, PharmD, assistant dean and campus director of the UF College of Pharmacy, is pictured with a kind donation of supplies from the Florida Department of Health. View Larger Image

The UF Health Jacksonville Supply Chain Services department uses an all-hands-on-deck approach in PPE inventory upkeep.

The start of 2020 has surely thrown several curveballs at UF Health Jacksonville’s Supply Chain Services department. Instead of keeping a typical amount of personal protective equipment, or PPE, on hand, they had to think differently, working harder and smarter than ever before.

The coronavirus pandemic has drastically increased the demand for PPE worldwide. Supply Chain Services had to dig deep, going back to the original source and brainstorming ways to keep inventory levels in line with the hospital’s needs.

Limited supply, increasing demand

“When the pandemic started, nobody even knew that China was the epicenter of PPE manufacturing,” said Chris Mele, director of Supply Chain Services. Though the team immediately attempted to increase the supply orders, distributors were already enforcing limits on amounts, called “allocation” in the supply world. For example, if an organization typically uses and orders 10,000 masks in one week, the distributor will only send 10,000 per week, but no extras.

Over the past few months, the demand for masks continued to rise as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended all clinical and nonclinical staff, as well as the general public, wear masks. This increased demand meant the typical distributors Supply Chain Services relied on were also filling orders for other organizations nationwide — and around the world.

These factors instigated a multifaceted approach from Supply Chain Services and other departments on campus.

Engaging all resources on and off campus

Supply Chain Services started reaching out to third-party brokers and even airfreighted masks from China. Unfortunately, yet understandingly, the main health care distributors were diverting supplies to states that needed them most, such as New York. UF Health Jacksonville was lucky to have a normal level of supplies, but wasn’t able to order more until the distributors had a healthy stock after supplying to areas in dire need.

Thankfully, the Jacksonville community and surrounding areas have been extremely generous, coming together to make protective equipment or donate their own to UF Health. Local support is allowing the supply on hand to stay constant, especially face shields.

Working smarter and working together

“Our staff is working countless hours, staying on the phone with local and national retailers and third-party suppliers, all to get in whatever we can to use now and save for the upcoming flu season,” Mele said.

He noted two employees from the Value Analysis team, Andy Caroll-Mazeli and Whitney Villanueva, have identified substitutes for certain supplies, brought in samples and coordinated with vendors to secure products. The Purchasing department, led by Robert Alday, scoured Amazon for spot purchases, and Joe Volciak’s Supply Chain Management team, consisting of Randy Faircloth, William Carlton, Raleigh Revelle, Michael Ruliva and Charles Miller, along with the Distribution staff, scrambled to find adequate space for the larger-than-normal amount of incoming PPE.

Other departments have gone above and beyond their job roles to support Supply Chain Services.  Environmental Services staff has assisted with finding sources for disinfectant. The Quality and Performance Improvement department utilized squirt bottles to conserve cleaning wipes. Safety and Infection Prevention and Control staff determined the appropriate use and disinfecting options for PPE. After receiving hand sanitizer donations from Bacardi, Radiology handled the distribution process, helping employees fill personal bottles.

“Sandy McDonald is a true hero here, helping coordinate PPE distribution between departments,” Mele said. “We couldn’t do this without her.”

In addition, Tracy Torres, director of Volunteer Services, led many employees in creating masks made of surgical material to help nonclinical staff to stay protected.

“We would not be in a better situation right now if it wasn’t for this village of caring people just wanting to help and do the right thing,” Mele said. “We are so humbled for all of the help we continue to receive.”

Reflecting on the past and planning for the future

Mele thinks back to times before COVID-19, when he would receive one or two phone calls per year when the campus was running out of supplies. His heart would sink when getting those calls.

Today, he is thankful for the teamwork and community support needed to manage the continuous calls and requests for additional supplies.

“I don’t think there is a supply chain director out there who will ever view their job or the health care industry the same after this,” Mele emphasized. “There will need to be a continued heightened focus on supply chain in health care for years to come.”

Visit this link to find out how to donate supplies or support UF Health Jacksonville and UF Health North in other ways.

Many UF Health employees have taken time out of their days to make masks for support personnel.
The UF Center for Simulation Education and Safety Research has developed a safe way to create face shields.
Carol Motycka, PharmD, assistant dean and campus director of the UF College of Pharmacy, is pictured with a kind donation of supplies from the Florida Department of Health.

For more information, please contact:
UF Health Media Relations
904-244-3268