Since March 6, Texas Children’s Supply Chain Team has worked hard to ensure the organization has enough supplies to care for our patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, four months later, Texas Children’s is still going strong.
With the increasing demand for N-95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), the hospital’s PPE supply has grown significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In early March, Texas Children’s had 10,000 N-95 masks on hand. As of July 22, the organization has 521,000 N-95 masks, which is the largest supply of masks in the Texas Medical Center. The Supply Chain also secured 3 million procedure masks and 1.2 million isolation gowns.
Much of this success is credited to the Supply Chain’s multi-tiered strategy for acquiring products. Texas Children’s obtains PPE in many different ways. The organization can source it through our Group Purchasing Organization (GPO), which most hospitals in the country do, or it can go out into the marketplace to secure aggressive deals.
“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas Children’s primarily acquired N-95 masks from a single company,” said Bert Gumeringer, Texas Children’s senior vice president for Facilities Operations. “Since the pandemic, we are now sourcing PPE from three different U.S. suppliers, which has eliminated our need to purchase PPE product from China. If one of our suppliers can’t provide us with PPE, we have two other resources to meet our needs.”
Gumeringer and other leaders meet at least twice a week to discuss PPE and stay abreast of new developments in the global market. They meet daily with our PPE suppliers to discuss plant status, FDA approvals and incoming shipments. Despite rumors of PPE shortages swirling on social media, Gumeringer says there is no shortage.
“There is PPE out there if you know how to acquire it,” Gumeringer said. “Our Supply Chain team is doing an excellent job of helping us acquire product so we can support patient care. We have a good system in place.”
While Supply Chain continues to grow our PPE inventory, Dr. Judith Campbell says it is important for employees and staff to be mindful of their use of PPE and engage in conservation practices as much as possible. Many organizations like Texas Children’s are using a lot of PPE , especially N-95 masks.
“We are using 2,500 N-95 masks per day, which is the highest usage rate in the Texas Medical Center,” said Campbell, medical director of Infection Control and Prevention at Texas Children’s. “To conserve our supply, we encourage our staff to use a clean procedure mask over their N-95 when an N-95 mask is recommended, for example, when seeing a patient under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19. After evaluating the PUI, remove the outer procedure mask, to extend the use of the N-95 mask.”
Campbell says if we all do our part, we can conserve the N-95 masks and other PPE supplies that we do have, which will help us in the months ahead during this pandemic.
Click here for PPE guidelines on the extended use of N-95 masks in certain patient care locations.