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R2’s Customer Service Division Helps Bring COVID-19 Protective Face Shields to NYC Hospitals
April 15, 2020
By Deborah Robin Croft
NEW YORK – During this unprecedented global health pandemic, the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) is often a matter of life and death -- especially within the context of the many COVID-19 affected patients and responders in the already overwhelmed hospitals in the New York metropolitan area. As hospitals and healthcare providers in the region have been forced to scour and compete in the marketplace for elusive PPE and decontamination products, GSA made a significant contribution to the citizens and health care providers in the Big Apple. Specifically, GSA’s Region 2 Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Customer and Stakeholder Engagement (CASE) division collaborated with the Northeast & Caribbean Supply and Acquisition Center to successfully provide much needed face shields to the medical staff of two New York City hospitals - Flushing Hospital and Jamaica Hospital - to support their critical missions of treating patients with COVID-19.
After hospital officials contacted the region expressing serious concerns over the depleted PPE for their medical community, personnel from the Region 2 CASE team, together with Acquisition Center contracting officers devised a way to deliver the products directly to their customers - breaking-up the logjam clogging the supply chain. The CASE Division connected with industry and GSA vendors to source PPE requested by the hospitals.
Under normal circumstances, FAS would act as an intermediary by sourcing and connecting products to customers through contracts. FAS’s CASE staff researches and sources products for all federal agencies, state and local customers and all branches of the armed services. Most of these are finished products, not raw materials. FAS works directly with vendors who are also manufacturers that have access to raw materials such as plastics, bags and packaging cardboard, etc.
“Region 2 has played a significant role in the state and local market for many years. Familiarity with the state and local programs and people helped us to coordinate efforts even though in this particular instance the sourcing occurred outside the GSA contracts,” said Region 2’s CASE Director, Frank Mayer. “It shows a true sense of public service. I am proud of the collaboration and effort of our staff across the region to get this important work done.”
In the end, the Acquisition Center identified a valued partner that had face shields as well as several other PPE available at a cost that was one-third lower than the marketplace was charging. The CASE Division and the Acquisition Center connected the vendor with the New York City hospitals and, in only six days, the face shields were delivered to the hospitals, bypassing the 45 day wait time that has recently become the “new norm.” Under these extreme circumstances, FAS brought vendors directly into contact with its customers. “It’s about doing the right thing,” said David Koriosek, Branch Chief and contracting officer for the FAS Acquisition Center. “It’s about helping people by connecting hospitals and FEMA directly with providers that can get the product out the door now!”
As a result of the successful teamwork and collaboration between both CASE and the Acquisition Center, a total of 50,000 face shields were provided to the two City hospitals. GSA R2’s ingenuity during this crisis significantly contributed to protecting local healthcare staff on the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Debbie Paralemos, R2 Customer Service Director said, “It’s a testament to the work that we do as an agency. Our state and local customers, including the public hospitals, consider GSA a valuable partner for sourcing critical items to help them fulfill their urgent requirements for the healthcare community.”
For more information about other actions GSA has taken in response to this pandemic, please visit GSA’s COVID-19 page: COVID-19 (Coronavirus).