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Surplus of adaptability

You never know how the decisions you make today will impact how you will respond to what's ahead. At Cook Children's, we can take comfort in the fact that the foresight of the behind-the-scenes team of our Supply Chain would ben​efit our system today. 

Consider this. In 2019, before COVID-19 was even a whisper in anyone's ear, our Supply Chain department had entered into a partnership with a supplier of N95 masks based in North Richland Hills. It's not as if they had a crystal ball that would guide this decision but just an inclination to work with a trusted vendor.

“When we had used them before, they were always fair and supportive of Cook Children's," Director of Supply Chain Sheila Guinn explained. “That trust, reliability and mutual respect for each other led us to make them our primary source for N95 masks. Of course, we had no idea that such a move would ultimately shield us from shortages during a global pandemic."

The pandemic caused shortages of raw and manufactured materials and shipping delays in areas such as China. But while other parts of the world scrambled for supplies to quarantines and shutdowns, Sheila credits this local partnership as the reason Cook Children's never experienced a single gap in having N95 masks for clinical staff.

Most notably, this put us in a position to always have a 100-day supply of PPE on-hand at any given time. As the uncertainty of what may be coming and how widespread it may be, the Command Center requested a shift from the normal 30-day supply to a 100-day supply. And our Supply Chain team met that new standard and continue to meet it to this day.

With one less supply concern on their mind, the Supply Chain team would be able to turn their attention to addressing other shortage solutions. 

Throughout those early months of the pandemic, Supply Chain relied upon algorithms and spreadsheets to make sure the limited items, such as disinfectant sprays and wipes, were allocated according to the location's need and priority. 

“We had to make sure that the true needs of each area was filled and we couldn't just fulfill the 'normal' order," Sheila said. “For example, certain types of wipes can't be used to sanitize certain equipment. So if a department was ordering that unique cleaner for their unit or office but it needed to be allocated to surgery, then we would adjust. It required us educating them on​ 'Why' these decisions were being made. I really appreciate everyone's adaptability to do what was right while working in an unknown situation." 

Even though it's been a long year, Sheila knows that it's not over but she appreciates the collaboration within Cook Children's. 


“I don't think we have relaxed yet, but this team of ours is phenomenal," Sheila said proudly. “With 12 to 13 people working daily and providing 24/7 coverage, they just wanted to do a good job and help however possible to get us through this. They aren't clinical but knew how they could contribute."We could not have done the job we needed to do without the support, input and open-mindedness of all the people we worked with all across leadership. ​Cook Children's as an organization showed such flexibility and imagination to solve problems that were unimaginable just one year ago." 

As long as teams like Supply Chain continue to exercise a strong work ethic, a willingness to adapt and an attitude of putting others first, then we don't need to fear the unknown. There's nothing that can break this strong chain of teamwork and purpose that connects us.