HOUSTON – Last year, Houston’s health leaders were stocking up supplies on personal protective equipment, which was hard to come by.
One of the early fears in the pandemic was that we would run out of PPE and not be able to protect frontline healthcare workers.
In the end, to summarize a valiant effort, Houston hospitals did in fact have a sufficient supply of PPE.
In fact, thousands of pounds of supplies purchased by Houston Methodist sat unused in a warehouse. When a few Houston doctors from India desperately asked to send that extra inventory to their home country, Houston Methodist did not disappoint.
Vice president of supply chain management, David Peck, said we currently have plenty of PPE for our own needs and hopes this donation helps contribute to the end of the pandemic worldwide.
“This is product that we purchased March and April of last year at the beginning of the pandemic here in Houston,” Peck said. “We bought quite a bit, and so we have gone through it and this is what we have left, so we want to donate it to the folks in India.”
Once the Indian Doctors Association knew the supply was available, they got to work locating which cities needed it and could accept it once it lands.
“We started dealing with stuff we never dealt with as physicians. Procurement, retrieval, logistics, transport, customs,” Dr. Jignesh Shah, Indian Doctors Association, said. “These are some things that we needed to do as a group, put our lives on hold.”
All 31 pallets have been carefully labeled to make sure the supplies go to exactly the right place.
“It may seem small as PPE but it’s huge in terms of protecting front liners,” said Dr. Swati Joglekar. She also added that doctors she studied with in India have been wearing bags in place of PPE.
As it loaded the trucks today, there is a sense of relief and motivation to do it again.
“We’re able to see how it is being used which is a different level of satisfaction and… pride that we feel we are directly being able to help,” Dr. Sangeeta Saikia said.
The IDA started a task force to continue raising money for medical supplies.
Peck said throughout the pandemic local hospitals worked together to even out distribution and make sure Houston stayed afloat. One major change that ensured we had enough PPE was local manufacturers started making what was typically purchased from China.