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Time is Running Out on Solving the COVID-19 PPE Shortage

By Julie Sebree, VP of Procurement

When I joined the Envision Healthcare family late last year as Vice President of Procurement, I never could have predicted that I would be emailing Amazon Chief Executive Officer, Jeff Bezos — as well as the CEOs of Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart — with a plea to prioritize personal protective equipment (PPE) for the healthcare system.

I wouldn’t have imagined that my colleagues and I would be on the phone with manufacturers in China in the middle of the night, sourcing items such as face masks, goggles and other personal protection items.

But this crisis calls upon us all to go beyond ourselves to do more, and Envision, as always, is coming together to support its clinicians and communities across the U.S. I have never been more proud to be a part of an organization that works relentlessly to protect clinicians, patients and the healthcare system.

A few weeks ago, the coronavirus outbreak was spreading rapidly across China, Italy, Iran and other countries. As the world was still trying to understand this virus, one thing became evident quickly: PPE was the only resource proven to protect the clinicians caring for COVID-19 patients.

And now, unfortunately, PPE has become a most precious commodity.

The Ongoing Hunt for PPE

It is traditionally the responsibility of hospitals to provide PPE, along with other equipment, to medical personnel. Now, as supplies grow scarce, we must all heed the call to do everything we can to help maintain the healthcare safety net. We are taking additional measures to help our clinicians and partner facilities locate and source the materials that those on the frontlines so desperately need.

We have leaned across the aisle and are working in unison with our competitors and partners. We are calling upon key players in the public and private sectors to lend assistance. Envision colleagues and clinicians have also helped make inroads on where to track down these precious supplies. Together, we have made significant progress, but the work is ongoing.

Healthcare organizations around the country are beginning to band together to solve this shortage, but if nothing is done on a national level, supplies will run out. I encourage hospital leaders, clinicians and all citizens alike to contact local and state government representatives and urge them to prioritize efforts to help secure and develop the PPE necessary to keep our caregivers safe. In times such as these, we learn that our voices are much more powerful than we realize.

Everything We Do Is for Our Healthcare Heroes

To our clinicians, and all providers standing in the middle of this unprecedented crisis: thank you. Without skipping a beat, you are running toward the storm and risking your health and safety to care for patients.

Our promise to you is that we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure you have the appropriate resources to safely care for our mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, neighbors and communities.

You are the Healthcare Heroes of this global pandemic, and it is an absolute privilege to work alongside you.