August

Supply technician Madison Roberts fulfills an order in Shipping and Receiving. Melanie Thortis/ UMMC Communications
Supply technician Madison Roberts fulfills an order in Shipping and Receiving.
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When stocking UMMC’s shelves, Supply Chain shines

Published on Monday, August 8, 2022

By: Ruth Cummins, ricummins@umc.edu

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, staff members in Supply Chain Management at the University of Mississippi Medical Center were proactive, not reactive, in securing soon-to-be scarce supplies needed to continue safe patient care.

Rick McFee
McFee

Rick McFee, chief of Supply Chain Management, and his team worked into the wee hours, keeping the Medical Center stocked with the items used the most, and brainstorming on options in instances where a supply just wasn’t available.

And when the going got the roughest, McFee and his team got even more creative. As hand sanitizer became dangerously scarce, “we had done everything we could to get the product,” he said.

Then, McFee approached two local distilleries, Cathead and Rich Grain. Cathead supplied 2,000 gallons of liquid sanitizer; Rich Grain, another 650 gallons.

Supply Chain Management’s work hasn’t gone unnoticed. The nonprofit ECRI, a global, independent authority on health care safety and technology, has named the Medical Center one of 11 recipients of its Healthcare Supply Chain Excellence Award for 2022.

The award is bestowed on hospitals that have achieved excellence in overall spending management and in adopting best practice solutions into supply chain processes, ECRI says.

Alan Jones
Jones

“This is truly a testament to the hard work and the dedication shown by Rick and his team during the most difficult supply chain environment any of us have seen in our lifetime,” said Dr. Alan Jones, associate vice chair for clinical affairs. “Again and again, they have risen to the occasion, and I and our organization are thankful for all their efforts. This is an honor well deserved.”

“Your success comes amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic that has been especially difficult for most health care supply chain teams. It is an honor and privilege to partner with you,” Dr. Marcus Schabacker, ECRI president and CEO, said in letter to McFee.

Now in its eleventh year, ECRI’s Healthcare Supply Chain Excellence Award recognizes members for comprehensive utilization of supply chain solutions and for employing industry-leading approaches to health care supply chain and value analysis.

Award winners are selected based on rigorous quantitative and qualitative assessments of member engagement with ECRI’s services. Winners are being recognized for continuously looking for new ways to enhance their supply chain processes.

UMMC Supply Chain Management collaborates with Medical Center leaders from areas including Infection Prevention, Pharmacy, Pathology, Nursing and more to navigate an unprecedented situation that has impacted hospitals across the county – and continues today.

“It was a very trying time, and it still is,” McFee said of the two-plus years of COVID-19. “We were competing with every other hospital in the nation, and buying things out of China stopped. It was a very rude awakening for many people in the United States who didn’t realize how much of our supply chain was manufactured or assembled in China.”

Critical care registered nurse Wendy Arinder goes over a re-stock item with supply technician Tawanna Bell in UMMC's bone marrow transplant unit. Melanie Thortis/ UMMC Communications
Critical care registered nurse Wendy Arinder goes over a re-stock item with supply technician Tawanna Bell in UMMC's bone marrow transplant unit.

In efforts that were mostly behind the scenes, Supply Chain Management worked collaboratively with its vendors to purchase large shipping containers of products. “We purchased three large containers of gloves over a year and a half and two large containers of isolation gowns. They were the most difficult to maintain a level of inventory in,” McFee said.

“Supply chain is a challenging role and activity any day. We deal with about 35,000 different items that we use in our hospitals,” he said.

There are lots of moving parts, he said, but his employees are nimble and do their best to keep every area supplied.

Supply Chain Management’s successes are “very much a team effort,” McFee said. “They have worked constantly, trying to source products and keep the pipeline filled.”