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New York medical practice manager signals improving PPE situation

Andrea Smith, practice manager for Constance M Chen, M.D., PC, a boutique plastic and reconstructive surgery office in New York City, tells Part B News how they're handling month four of the COVID-19 pandemic. The following conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
Part B News: Has the health emergency impacted your PPE supplies a little, a lot or not at all?
Andrea Smith: The pandemic has greatly impacted our ability to access PPE supplies for our practice. New York state has been allowed to resume elective surgical procedures. It's been a challenge to secure the items we need.  
PBN: What's the situation with your usual supply vendors?
Smith: We work with several medical supply companies and have a few accounts with direct manufacturers as well. All of these vendors are doing their best to allocate supplies to the various institutions they work with. It's based on priority. Plastic and reconstructive surgery practices like ours are lower on the priority list, so I have had to work harder to ensure we have everything we need in preparation for reopening.
Now that things are starting to improve, I have begun the process of securing what we need for our return to work. Within the last few weeks, I have noticed that some of my orders that were on hold [or] backorder are starting to get released, so that's a great sign that the supply chain is starting to get back on track. 
The key is to have good relationships with your vendor reps so they can watch inventory internally for you and also provide helpful tips on new products that are in production. I find that ordering in smaller quantities works better than trying to purchase items by the case; I am also trying to do my best not to hoard products.
PBN: What new avenues did you explore to find equipment? How did they work out?
Smith: I find casting a wide net works best when trying to source products. Tap into your vendor relationships, keep in close communication with them and check websites often yourself.
Right now, I have a lot of outstanding orders and it was getting very confusing to keep up with what was out there so I started a spreadsheet that I update at the beginning and end of the day. I am pretty regimented about checking my vendor websites a few times per day just to see if something has been released off my list or if a new PPE product I need is back in stock. I also keep up with our professional society's internal postings and webinars for tips on returning to work and PPE availability. 
PBN: Are you taken care of now?
Smith: We are getting there! Again, I'm not trying to go crazy on supplies and just want to get enough to safely run our business. I still need a few safety products for our anesthesia team to use in our AAAASF-certified operating suite, but I'm confident that we will have what we need very soon.  
Blog Tags: COVID-19
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