Friday, June 26, 2020

Logistics and COVID-19


We know that medical supplies are essential in the fight against COVID-19. But how do they get to the hospitals and clinics? That is a story of Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Tommy Tress is a Logistics student at Vol State, but he is also part of that strategic network keeping the nurses and doctors supplied. He is the Receiving and Distribution Supervisor at Sumner Regional Medical Center.
“I’ve had to track items a lot closer than previously,” Tress said. “I need daily counts of what we have on hand. I watch orders closely to see where they stand. And we have to conserve.”

Tress is like many students at Vol State- a working professional taking classes to earn a degree that will help them advance in their career. A big lesson in the COVID-19 battle has been looking for warning signs.
“Our administrators had been watching this since November and December. They were hearing the news coming out of China and there was also another issue with a recall that put strains on us to source products. The supply shortages started in February. We did have supplies set aside for disaster, but that is only designed for a short period of time, like for a tornado or flood. My boss and I would look through the situation each day to figure out how to respond.”

The health supplies run the gamut from protective gear for health workers to the basic supplies that patients in intensive care need every day. Sumner County seemed to be spared the worst of the pandemic at first, and then there was a huge outbreak at a nursing home in Gallatin. “At first it seemed like it was going to be a strain, but we didn’t need all of the supplies we thought we would. But we had to quickly turn-around and get nursing home supplies that we don’t normally use in that number.”

Now hospitals are preparing for what could be a second or even third wave of COVID-19 cases. That as supplies must be moved from region to region as outbreaks occur. It’s a complicated process that highlights the importance of Supply Chain Management. And it’s not only medical equipment. The entire food supply chain had to change when restaurants and schools closed and grocery stores were inundated with customers.

"The one common thing I was seeing, one of the main issues for transporting supplies was truckers,” Tress said. “They have been predicting a shortage of truckers for years.”

Just another piece in the puzzle of Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

“A jigsaw puzzle is pretty apt. Everything fits together to get the job done. You can’t treat patients without supplies.”

For more information about Logistics and Supply Chain Management training at Vol State visit: www.volstate.edu/logistics

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