Our New Blog Series: Daily Supplies

How people and companies get the daily things they need and who supplies them.

(Interviewed by Our Founder/CEO, Tiffanie Stanard)

Caitrin Carickhoff has spent six years making sure the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is stocked with everything from medical devices for the operating room equipment to cups for the cafeteria. A value analysis improvement advisor on the supply chain team, Carickhoff helps review potential new products coming into the facility.

At a hospital with more than 500 beds, 25,000 annual admissions, and 15,000 employees, it’s a big job. She also supports supplier diversity initiatives, helping to ensure that CHOP not only purchases from large businesses but actively recruits and sources from local and diverse businesses as well.

In a recent interview, Carickhoff explained her day-to-day responsibilities, how COVID-19 changed procurement at the hospital, and revealed her favorite recent buying experience.

Supply chain at CHOP has a variety of tasks

There are four groups in supply chain at the hospital. The procurement and contracting team does all the buying and contracts. Materials distribution manages the main storeroom containing all equipment and supplies for the hospital. Another team performs value analysis, reviewing all new product requests. There is also a central sterile processing unit that cleans and sterilizes all instruments that are used in operating rooms.

“I see our team as the unsung heroes of the hospital. In order to do anything clinically at CHOP, you need supplies and equipment. Who gets that for you? Supply chain” said Carickhoff. “The pandemic really highlighted the importance of the forecasting, inventory, and purchasing we do every day.”

CHOP responded well to COVID-19 supply chain issues

When demand for personal protective equipment hit a fevered pitch in early 2020, the CHOP supply chain team kicked into high gear. They leveraged relationships with vendors, its long purchasing history, and its size to ensure healthcare providers and employees were properly protected — while ensuring that normal order flow wasn’t interrupted.

“A lot of other hospitals were contacting us for stuff because they knew that we had relationships and the purchasing power,” said Carickhoff, noting that CHOP also received plenty of donations from generous people and companies.

“We had companies dropping off 100,000 N-95 masks. We were able to use a lot of that PPE and also help other healthcare institutions in Philadelphia that weren’t getting the same donations. We even shipped a palette of items to Liberia,” said Carickhoff.

CHOP is competitive for potential vendors

Carickhoff considers vendors to be critical partners. The hospital even helped vendors get vaccinated during the COVID-19 pandemic. But gaining the hospital’s business means providing value — or it will look to competitors.

“We take care of our vendors and consider them partners because, without them, we can’t be successful,” said Carickhoff. “But we are not necessarily making it feel like an employee relationship or a family relationship. Competition is a good thing, and we have to stay true to the bottom line. If a vendor isn’t delivering the best price, we’ll look elsewhere.”

Sustainability is top-of-mind

Healthcare facilities in the United States generate approximately 14,000 tons of waste per day and up to one-quarter of that waste is plastic. CHOP is looking at a number of ways to reduce waste. One is reprocessing equipment like compression devices that keep blood pumping during surgeries. Rather than throwing away thousands per year, CHOP now contracts with a company that cleans and sanitizes them for reuse.

“We are also looking for alternatives for our plastic patient handling bags and any kind of single-use plastic that ends up in the trash,” she said.

The best recent purchase experience she’s had? It involves a fanny pack…

When asked to identify the last item she (personally) purchased that gave a great experience, she answered emphatically.

“I bought a Cotopaxi fanny pack. Cotopaxi makes bags, camping gear, jackets, and a bunch of other stuff. They use the leftover fabric they use to make fanny packs. Fanny packs are so not cool but I love mine,” she said. “Plus, they put revenue towards addressing poverty and vow to treat their workers really well.”

About Daily Supplies.

In June 2020, we announced our new series of articles (soon podcast), to discuss — What are your daily supplies? What are the items that you use every day — the food, clothing, furniture, pens, transportation, utensils, or other possessions that enable you to live and work? Chances are, those items were produced and provided to you by private companies, placed on store shelves in your neighborhood for you to purchase, or on websites to be shipped to your door. Read more below…

Stay tuned for great interviews with people/companies to learn more about some of your favorite products.

Stimulus, a relationship intelligence software that helps companies build more valuable vendor and supplier relationships.

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