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Team keeps calm in face of pandemic

Ketchikan | January 11, 2021
Supply Chain Team from PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center
Ketchikan’s supply chain crew has weathered COVID-19’s impact on the community with resilience and grace.

“We first got wind of the possibility of a pandemic in December 2019 when leadership told us to stock up on PPE (personal protective equipment),” said Tim Walker, the manager of Supply Chain at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.

Then, the pandemic was declared.

At first, Ketchikan’s remoteness worked in its favor.

“We had a good stocking plan when it all started,” said Tim. “Because we live on an island, we have a different inventory cycle than other places. We had a two- to three-week buffer, which helped.”Tim Walker

The community was generous too, he noted. Residents there are used to stocking up, storing, getting creative and sharing with others in need. “We got a lot of donations,” which were gratefully received.

But — like everyone else, everywhere else — it wasn’t long before Tim’s team struggled to get supplies.

And it wasn’t just shortages of PPE. Shoe covers. Drapes. Trays. Specimen bags. Sanitizers. Soap. “Pretty much everything was hard to get,” he said.

FernandoOrdering became a laborious process. What used to take seconds or — at most — minutes, could now take hours because it required the staff to manually find substitutes for items that were out of stock before an order could be placed. “We once looked for seven hours to find one item,” he said.

On top of the unstable global supply chaos, the department was also working short-handed at times. Between family leaves and other situations, the crew was frequently stretched.

Everyone pitched in. Fernan Angeles, Jeferson Ronquillo, Jeri Shoemaker and Lawrence Stanley-Dalton. “The whole team has done really well,” Tim said. “They have an incredible amount of knowledge and an amazing work ethic.

“Nanette Manabat was a hidden gem. Her real job is inventory control coordinator, but she stepped into operations and ended up covering for anyone who was out,” he noted. “Her job was quite difficult. She worked really hard to keep things normal and go the extra mile.”Nanette

Known for her rather shy nature, Nanette is quick to point to others.

“It took teamwork,” she said. No truer words could be spoken. The year’s extreme challenges only strengthened the group’s cohesive resilience.

“It’s fun working here,” she said, “We are a team. We are all equal.”

One thing the group has been doing to lighten things up and help members improve their English language skills is posting a new rare word every week in their work area. Friday is “translation” day when everyone tries to define the word of the week.

JeffersonIn the fall, they switched things up. Three of the crew are from the Philippines so they’ve started using the word of the week to help their boss learn Tagalog.

When a member of Tim’s household tested positive for COVID-19, he ended up working from home. The word for that week was fittingly bahay (meaning house or home).

Heading into the new year, Tim notes supplies are now adequate.

“We’re also thankful to have the support from the other regions in PeaceHealth. I don’t know what we would do without them,” he said.Jeri

The world of supply chain still has challenges ahead. Tim thinks it will be several more months before things feel anywhere close to normal.

When asked about his team’s secret for managing the stress and crises, he said it was simply “staying calm.”

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