Managing Supply Chain Disruptions During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Bench Matters: March 2021
Authors: Jack A. Maggiore, PhD, MT(ASCP) and Jonathan Bakst, MBA, MHS, PA (ASCP) // Date: MAR.1.2021 // Source: Clinical Laboratory News
Let’s be honest. The emergency disaster relief policies that labs had in place at the start of 2020 were high level placeholders required by our accrediting agencies. Very few—if any—of us had plans for responding to a global pandemic that seriously disrupted supply chains worldwide. Instead of strategizing and planning, we found ourselves primarily responding, trying to maintain our operations and serve our customers.
Like most everyone, Loyola Medicine, a three-hospital system based in the Chicago suburb of Maywood, Illinois, struggled with these issues. We started in-house SARS-CoV-2 testing on March 19, 2020, and by the end of the year had performed 120,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests using six testing platforms. We performed another 6,300 antibody tests, including on 4,000 colleagues. We’ve learned many valuable lessons this past year and, in this article, describe some of our key takeaways.
- Just-in-time inventory doesn’t work for pandemics, but stockpiling has its limitations beyond essential personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Cutting personnel in response to low test volumes is short-sighted.
- Keep training staff.
- Fear of modifying a method, thereby making it a laboratory developed test (LDT), shouldn’t automatically rule out this option.
- Vendor loyalty might bring products into a lab, but when that company experiences supply disruptions, not having relationships with multiple vendors could prove problematic.
- Build supplier redundancies.
- Recognize when it’s time to execute backup.
- Develop systems for outsourcing nonessential testing.
- Look hard at all primary and essential methods to determine if a sound, validated backup exists, and detail the logistics required to implement this solution.
- Audit and revise labs’ pandemic response plans.
As the pandemic wears on, laboratories continue to lean on each other for ideas, support, and solutions. In our lab, we’ve had successes while still learning and adapting. We long for the days when we could pull a disaster plan off the shelf to guide us in evaluating options and executing solutions. In reality, we’re actively writing our plan for the future as we experience this (hopefully) once in a lifetime event.
Read the full article here
Jack A. Maggiore, PhD, MT(ASCP), is assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and associate director of core laboratory operations and point-of-care testing at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois.+Email: Jack.Maggiore@lumc.edu
Jonathan Bakst, MBA, MHS, PA(ASCP)CM, is regional administrative director of laboratory services for Loyola Medicine.+Email: Jonathan.Bakst@luhs.org