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Vision and Voice

Building Supply Chain Resiliency Protects Our Caregivers

Go to nearly any grocery store, and you can see firsthand how the global supply chain crisis has come to affect nearly every aspect of our lives amid the pandemic. Of course, we face our own unique set of challenges in health care, keeping our frontline team members supplied with the many essential products needed to provide the safest and best care possible to our patients.

At UVA Health, we have ample personal protective equipment (PPE). However, we don't often talk about the complex behind-the-scenes work that goes into ensuring the continuity of our patient-facing operations, at least from a supply chain perspective. So, in that spirit, I'm excited to share one meaningful example of the innovative work being done to support our care teams by ensuring they have what they need when they need it.

Isolation gowns — distinct from those for surgery requiring a different level of protection — are a difficult-to-source but essential piece of PPE to safeguard our team members from the transmission of COVID-19. About a year ago, UVA Health and 33 of our peers came together and, leveraging our size and buying power, made a collective investment to stabilize isolation gown manufacturing. Soon, because of this new partnership, UVA Health will be able to source isolation gowns from a facility located about a five-hour drive away in Tennessee instead of halfway around the world. And ultimately, we'll be able to do this at a lower overall cost with guaranteed shipments and reliability.

To learn more about this effort, watch this video from our group purchasing organization, which helps us get the products and services we need and use across all our care settings.

Alliances with our peers like these have supported us at UVA Health through several particularly tough times during the pandemic. With time, this gown partnership has the potential to expand and provide reliable access to other essential products, from face masks to exam gloves to pharmaceuticals. I'm proud that our investment in this effort will not only help get our team members what they need when they need it but also help other health systems do the same for their teams. Because teamwork, in service of the greater good, is what we're all about at UVA Health. Thank you to everyone from the frontline caregivers to our supply chain team to my fellow leaders for their support of these efforts.

Take care and be well!

PS— I invite you to join me for a BeHeard Breakfast. These gatherings are a great opportunity to take a break and chat about anything you'd like. These take place monthly — mostly in the mornings, but there is an afternoon edition in March — and participation is limited. Sign up here.