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Partnership showcases VA’s supply chain management

Health care workers’ first defense against contagions is personal protective equipment (PPE). With a world-wide unprecedented scarcity, VA’s Secretary’s Center for Strategic Partnerships (SCSP) established a first-of-its-kind collaboration to secure PPE.

VA’s partnership with DEKA Research & Development Corp (DEKA) innovator Dean Kamen has been in place since March 2020. It has yielded masses of needed PPE. The stockpiles were carried in on phased FedEx flights that arrived at the Manchester/Boston Regional International Airport. VA’s medical logisticians and administrators took ownership of the PPE at the airport. From there, they were able to navigate uncharted practices to deliver the PPE to facilities in need across the nation.

Delivering PPE where it was most needed

VA medical logisticians lent their institutional and industry knowledge. They worked tirelessly, strategically connecting lifesaving PPE with VA health care workers where it was most needed. Those life-saving efforts continue today.

VA leadership meets with medical logisticians at VA Manchester Healthcare System

During a recent appreciation visit to VA Manchester Healthcare System, Deborah Kramer, acting Assistant Under Secretary for Health for Support Services, said she values personal connections to learn where she can help. “You can do a lot remotely, but there is nothing that can replace being face to face with the staff doing the work.”

In the photo above, Deborah Scher, of the Secretary’s Center for Strategic Partnerships, connects with Richard Collins, a supply management specialist (right) and Gregary Atchley, a project manager for the VHA Procurement and Logistics Office.

Kramer shared her service experience that she was an Army medical logistician. The conversation turned to the challenges of moving and storing supplies and equipment for the medical center. “That is exactly the kind of feedback I am here to receive,” she replied. “We aren’t going to improve by hearing things are perfect.

“Most of the time you don’t hear about the behind-the-scenes, frontline professionals. You only hear about them when things go wrong. A good example of this is Manchester’s team of medical logisticians. Not having heard much about them is a tribute to their success.”

When it comes to COVID-19, VA’s logisticians have made it possible for providers to continue delivering health care. Learn more about the logistics behind PPE here.

Supporting delivery of safe, high-quality health care

Kramer continued: “Everyone should know about VA’s workforce. Their efforts support VA’s infrastructure empowering the department to deliver safe, high-quality health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Securing the PPE was made possible through a strategic partnership realized through the leadership of Scher, executive advisor to the secretary, who leads the VA SCSP and joined Kramer on the recent visit.

“As the largest integrated health care system in the nation, VA has vast resources, but we realize and embrace the fact that we become stronger when we collaborate across the enterprise and with our community,” Scher said. “Interdisciplinary teamwork has been essential in VA’s ability to receive and process PPE. Beyond VA’s teamwork and strategic partnerships, it has been critical to work with an aim of continuous improvement and commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our workforce and our Veterans.”

As our nation continues to battle the adverse impacts of COVID-19, we will prevail together in innovation, effort, community, industry commitment and delivery. Join VA in keeping our nation’s promise to honor those who serve. Learn more here: www.va.gov/scsp/.


Kristin Pressly-Mills is an interim portfolio manager for Strategic Communications/Partnerships at the Secretary’s Center for Strategic Partnerships.

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