On the Frontlines: Procurement Edition

May 15, 2020

 

Daniel Anctil is director of Procurement, Logistics and the Medical Device Reprocessing Unit at Montfort. While his hospital is reinventing the way it provides care on the frontlines, behind the scenes, he and his team are reinventing the way they supply the hospital, thus enabling their colleagues to save lives.

Daniel tells us how him and his team are living the pandemic—their concerns, the challenges they face and the miracles they manage to accomplish every day.

"On March 13, Montfort created the Emergency Measures Command Centre to plan its COVID-19 operations. The next morning, I attended an incident management model training session, after which I went directly to the command centre. That day, I knew it wasn't going to be business as usual. We immediately went from theory to practice. That's when we saw an explosion of issues in procurement and material management.

The first thing we did was connect with the Infection Control Department. Every week, their manager would update us on the status of the coronavirus, infection control and the initiatives Ottawa Public Health was putting in place. This information is critical for us to be able to plan properly and ensure the hospital doesn't run out of supplies.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) has been our main challenge since the beginning of the pandemic. Fortunately, as early as the first weekend, members of senior management were able to identify potential sources in the community. We received offers from dentists and family physicians who could provide us with protective masks, gloves, swabs and other supplies.

Many people also gave us references to go out and collect PPE donations. Thanks to these referrals, we have partnered with engineering students at the University of Ottawa to produce visors using 3D printers; La Cité has lent us beds and stretchers and given us boxes of supplies; and several seamstresses in the community are making masks for our few visitors, including the dads at the Family Birthing Centre.

We have also received many donation offers. While the Montfort Foundation collects cash donations, as soon as we are notified of an offer to donate equipment, we make a point of communicating quickly with the donors in question, so they know their contribution is important and makes a big difference for our staff and patients. We are also compiling the name of all the donors so we can properly thank them when the pandemic is over.

Another challenge related to PPE was that guidelines for wearing it changed from day to day. On the floors, the vision of staff members was sometimes different from the instructions of the authorities. Control processes had to be put in place to get a clear picture of our inventories and ensure the different units were using the PPE appropriately. Putting on an N95 mask for a procedure that doesn't require it can give a false sense of security and is wasteful! Fortunately, the ministry and public health authorities have clarified the guidelines, which continue to evolve.

Another solution being explored to overcome the PPE challenge is the reuse of N95 masks. In collaboration with the Institut du Savoir Montfort and one of its research partners, a sterilization process for N95 masks is being developed. This process could also be extended to other PPE in the future. It could be a game changer if they can be safely sterilized.

We went to great lengths to put in place distribution and control processes to meet the needs of the nursing and medical staff. In addition, we helped set up the COVID-19 care clinic located on Heron Road.

Members of the procurement team

Photo (left to right): Matthieu Laplante, Daniel Anctil, Pierre-Luc Malboeuf and Jonathan Roy from the procurement team

Recently, Montfort also had to provide support to two long-term care facilities, assigned by the Ministry of Health. For the procurement department, this is an extremely demanding job that requires a great deal of effort, coordination and collaboration, not only to meet the needs of the various facilities, but also to respond to staff members’ concerns.

In addition, we have secured alternative supply sources. Since all health care facilities were going to the same sources, the inventories of our regular suppliers were "dry".

When we started doing business with these new sources, we first had to validate the technical specifications of the equipment with the clinicians, which took too long. By the time we were getting back to the suppliers, either the price had significantly increased, or the required supplies were no longer available.

Since procurement is a matter of supply, demand and availability, we have seen supplies that sometimes cost 20 times more than usual, which has forced us to change the way we do things. To remedy this situation, a clinician was dedicated to the procurement team to expedite the validation processes.

A good example of an alternative source is hand sanitizer, for which we now have five or six suppliers. From a reference, we contacted North of 7, a local microdistillery located on St. Laurent Boulevard, which usually makes gin, vodka, rum and whisky. What's interesting is that their disinfectant foams up, so we can use it in our wall-mounted dispensers!

We are also responding to needs such as ventilators. Manufacturers have given us guidelines on how to convert our anesthesia machines into ventilators. We have also moved up our order for new ventilators and anesthesia machines that were already scheduled to be purchased.

The work in procurement and material management changes a lot from day to day. Fortunately, we now have a better idea of where we're going, but more importantly, we have a team of committed and competent professionals working to meet the growing needs of Montfort and the other entities now under its responsibility. They work behind the scenes, but their impact on the frontlines is nothing short of vital and it is an honour for me to have the privilege of working with them on a daily basis."

If you have contributed to Montfort’s COVID-19 emergency fund, we are profoundly grateful for your generosity. Your donation has allowed Montfort to adequately prepare to respond to the coronavirus-related needs that arise as the situation evolves.

We are still looking for PPE and meal donations for our frontline staff. If you can help, please contact:

Our goal is to keep taking you to our frontlines regularly. Please check our website periodically for other testimonials from Montfort’s dedicated guardian angels.