Q: What is a hospital’s supply chain?
A: I like to describe supply chain as “little fairies in the night.” People don’t necessarily see us doing our job. But then they come back the next morning, and the bins are full. That’s essentially what the supply chain techs do. They make sure all the end users are fully stocked and prepared to take care of our patients. All the stuff that comes in through our loading dock — every person in our department touches it. Our receiver will touch those packages and then distribute them to our techs, and then our techs will bring them to the appropriate places on the floor.
Q: Though you don’t provide direct patient care, how would you say your role affects patients?
A: In the HCA Healthcare West Florida Division, and within Supply Chain, we’ve adopted a motto: “It’s not a package — it’s a patient.” Sometimes, when you’re in that tech role, you don’t always feel like you’re doing the most fulfilling job. But then you’re reminded that you are touching the patient by doing your job, your day-to-day stuff , and it really helps you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. I really like that slogan because it helps us just refocus on why we’re doing this.
Q: Do you work closely with the hospital staff?
A: I talk to the medical staff, not necessarily the physicians, but our clinicians, on a daily basis. Being at a smaller facility helps me stay in touch like that.
Q: What was it like working in supply chain during the pandemic?
A: When the pandemic started in 2020, I was a supply chain coordinator. I made the move from a tech in April of 2020, literally right when it was getting heated. I learned from my boss (Belinda Wallace) at the time: You’re given the task at hand, and you want to do the best you can. So, I just rolled with the punches and said, ‘Okay, what else can I do here?’
Q: Healthcare seems to require certain critical but behind-the-scenes roles. Would you categorize supply chain in that way?
A: Supply chain is a huge key to healthcare. It’s not always first on people’s minds, but without our supply chain techs, I wouldn’t be able to do my job, and the nurses wouldn’t be able to [do their jobs] either. It’s such an underrated role, but in my mind it’s the most important.
Q: What are some of the challenges for your team in the current healthcare climate?
A: Currently, everyone in supply chain is facing the same big challenges – back-order problems and supply chain issues, though not on the facility end. It’s more from the manufacturers. Manufacturers are reducing their profiles, and they’re no longer making certain products that they’ve always made. We’re constantly having to find different vendors or substitute items. We have contracts with hundreds of vendors, and we’re constantly building new relationships.