The Behind the Scenes Role of Partnerships in Response to a Pandemic
You know those iconic scenes in Westerns where the gun slinging cowboy rides into a town square full of apparent enemies? There is a mission to be completed, whether it be to clear their name, or to avenge a loved one. Suddenly, a tumbleweed pushed by the wind scurries by, bringing with it a thin veil of dirt and dust. A bird of some kind caws and echoes in the landscape–a fight is brewing. Seemingly, the gunslinger has no allies, the odds are stacked against him, but still, he chooses to fight. As bullets begin to fly through air, dust is kicked up, the cowboy seeks safety in behind a building. With no options left, hope has vanished. Then, a saloon door a kicked open by an unlikely hero. An ally, a friend, a partner, is there to help. What seemed like a hopeless situation, was turned around by an unexpected partnership.
I have set this background up in an effort illustrate what I have seen during this pandemic. Many ancillary care facilities, non-healthcare operations, community health organizations, etc. have been pushed into a situation where they feel as if they are going it alone, specifically those which did not have existing vendors or sources of protective equipment. We have seen these organizations work overtime and over-extend themselves to protect themselves and those for which they provide critical care and services. Working on the supply and donation coordination team, I have seen dozens of emails that come across our inbox from organizations that are down to their last masks , gowns, or gloves. After many attempts to secure PPE from various sources and even branching out to non-traditional ones, many have come to us for help. Even with the hundreds of suppliers with which we’ve connected, so few are willing, or able, to supply to smaller facilities. Even when they are willing, the prices are completely out of the range for these facilities. What are they to do? Where are they to turn?
Luckily, benevolent partners who are dedicated to serving those that are most in need have shown up to help those being pushed out of the market. We’ve seen partners show up and fill financing gaps for healthcare facilities. We’ve also seen partners obtain critically scarce PPE and donate it to small healthcare facilities. These decisions, life-saving actions, are made and carried out on the back end–often–not apparent to the public, and never to be shared publicly. Even for our team, much of the work of the supply and donation coordination team is done behind the scenes. We actively match offers of supply to requests of need by connecting with suppliers and requesters through email or through the BIO Coronavirus Hub. As we are just one organization, there are times that the suppliers with which we have connected are not good matches with certain requests. It is at this point we turn to our partners and direct requesters to them as they may have more suitable options. Our partners have helped source critical PPE and other medical needs for all types of facilities. Highlights include:
- In need dialysis centers with little to no budgets from in various parts of the country were connected with donated surgical masks and gloves
- HIV care facility that was scammed by a PPE supplier was connected to donated gowns and face shields
- Intellectual disability care facility catering to an underserved population connected with donated gowns and mask supplier with a commitment to affordable pricing and supplying critical needs
We are not filling this space to claim the spotlight of helping source critical PPE. Instead, we, like our partners, are here to work collaboratively to support our healthcare system and essential organizations during times of disaster and crisis.