The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support’s Construction and Equipment supply chain COVID-19 Strike Team was presented with the Small Team of the Year award during DLA’s virtual annual award ceremony January 28.
The team was recognized for managing massive end-to-end national support efforts that brought relief to overwhelmed hospitals and nursing homes across the United States, as well as for resupplying the nation’s Strategic National Stockpile of personal protective equipment.
The work of the team during the unprecedented pandemic has been essential to the nation’s COVID-19 response, said DLA Vice Director Michael Scott, who also presented the award.
“This team engaged with frontline responders, identified needs, developed innovative solution sets, and coordinated across DLA, multiple vendors, [military] services and whole of government partners,” he said. “Their efforts combined for a value of over $1.2 billion and helped save countless lives worldwide.”
The team, which worked seven days a week for multiple months at a time, focused on three major efforts. The first was securing an approximately $400 million contract for 60 Battelle Critical Care Decontamination Systems which were used to decontaminate over 1.6 million N95 face-piece respirators for frontline medical workers last year.
John Finchen, C&E liaison specialist, said they received the Battelle request from the department of Health and Human Services early Palm Sunday and immediately went to work, making calls within the hour to set up decontamination systems across the U.S.
“We started calling the Battelle corporation, state and local agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, anybody to get a name,” Finchen said. “Finding the right point of contact at the state and local level was key for the delivery, storage and disposal of materials that were essential for the operations of these systems.”
The team also supported the Operation Nursing Home personal protective equipment resupply effort to procure, receive, kit, redistribute and verify receipt of over 92,200,000 items worth more than $134 million to 14,947 nursing homes.
“The most difficult part of the operation was confirming deliveries at almost 15,000 nursing homes,” Kelsi MacMurray, C&E contract specialist said. “Depending on the location, you were either speaking to the nursing staff, a warehouse manager, or sometimes it was the administrative assistant answering the phones that could confirm receipt. The more calls we made the quicker we were able locate the right contact and we were good to go.”
The efforts provided much needed relief to nursing home staff who sent messages of thanks to the team.
Replenishing the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services is an ongoing endeavor for the team. As of the time of their nomination they had procured more than 4.5 billion gloves, 6.7 million goggles and 4.8 million face shields for multiple locations with a value of over $600 million.
The team, who were hand-picked by C&E senior leaders, were grateful for the opportunity to spearhead the efforts, Adam Tutolo, C&E logistics specialist, said.
“It was really important to have the support of key leaders such as Troy Vokes and Marko Graham,” Tutolo said. “They enabled us to be creative in our actions and do what we needed to do to accomplish the mission.”
Teams like this benefit the customer, members and the organization as a whole, MacMurray said.
“One of the things that came from this situation and working so closely with everyone is that you get a greater understanding how other sections of the supply chain operates which will enable us to have better communication when things go back to normal,” she said. “Relationships have been cultivated and that makes the whole organization stronger.”
Members of the team include: Navy Capt. Jacqueline Meyer, Tom Grace, Tom Page, Marko Graham, Lauren Murphy, Kyle McCarthy, Meghan Michalski, John Cuorato, Kelly Callahan, John Finchen, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Edward Windas, Navy Lt. Kevin Marvel, Adam Tutolo, Troy Vokes, Mary Ryan, and Kelsi MacMurray.