Mike McCaffrey, OHSU Hospital: ‘It was absolutely crazy’


I became interested in logistics when I was an Army ROTC scholarship student in college. I was interested in all the moving parts and pieces of an organization but also thought these were transferable skills if I were to decide to transition from the military. Logistics fit the bill! I have been at OHSU for 16 years.

I was very concerned when I first learned about COVID, but since the U.S. had largely been spared from these types of events, I honestly thought it would pass by without too much disruption, as so many had before.

It did hit us, of course, and Supply Chain and Logistics was one of the areas most immediately impacted. Asia is the source for much of the world’s PPE (personal protective equipment) and because that area of the globe was dealing with the world’s first major outbreak, it had a severe impact on PPE availability. Production facilities were shut down. When they reopened, much of the output was directed to support China’s domestic response.

The Sunday Oregonian on May 9 carries a special section on Health Care Heroes in the age of COVID-19. Read all the stories and first-person accounts at oregonlive.com/health.

As the pandemic unfolded, demand for PPE increased exponentially, which created a perfect storm – increased demand and decreasing supply. N95 respirators, procedure masks, isolation gowns and gloves were the most impacted products, but we also needed more face shields, goggles, alternative respirators and many other things since these were becoming standard protection gear as the pandemic surged.

For us, it was absolutely crazy. We were working night and day. We created a donations site and had an incredible response, both from OHSU’s research community, and from companies across the state. We began talking with Nike and a team of designers and manufacturing experts and almost overnight, we had prototypes of face shields and respirator lenses. Ultimately, Nike produced thousands of these items for OHSU and a number of other hospitals.

At one point, we collaborated with OHSU Pharmacy to have a local distillery make hand sanitizer. While that was happening, we were leveraging OHSU experts to set up an N95 decontamination process should we run low on those critically needed items. We had it up in a matter of weeks and were ready to go, but luckily never needed to use it.

The way that the organization rallied around me and my team is something that I will never forget. We were in an incredibly difficult position due to the massive shortages of PPE and there were many times that we didn’t know how we would be able to satisfy the needs of the organization. But, through the leadership of OHSU Chief Medical Officer Dr. Renee Edwards and so many other talented people, hard decisions, like what functions should stop or be modified in order to allocate scarce N95s to those that clinically required them, were made to ensure the safety of the workforce.

Sean Hurley and so many people from my Logistics team were particularly instrumental in keeping PPE flowing. Sean, as our purchasing manager, sourced products from all over the globe, vetting new vendors to make sure we were not buying counterfeit products or getting duped into buying critical products that would never come. Many others made sure the PPE product we were buying was made immediately available to our front-line staff and oversaw the assembly of such things as COVID lab testing kits and disinfectant wipes since they weren’t available that way on the market.

The irony and reality after all of this is that my family lost my mother-in-law to COVID-19 in February. She was 84, married for 55 years and was a retired nurse of 40 years who immigrated from the Philippines. She and her husband were scheduled to get their vaccines but she fell sick. He couldn’t be with her since he was also sick. That situation, ever so heartbreaking, underscored the importance of what we all do and why we do it – and our impact on changing the path of this pandemic.

COVID exposed the many disparities in our communities. It has been a challenge our country hasn’t seen in a century and it has been hard on so many but I am hopeful that it has brought a new and different focus to the issues that really matter.



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