Medical supply chain works face-to-face with Pacific customers

By Janeen Hayes DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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Being able to meet with customers in person allows a better flow of communication, a Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Medical supply chain division chief said about a visit last month to customers in the Pacific region.

“Meeting face-to-face is the most important aspect of my position,” Army Maj. Christopher Splichal, West Region customer relations chief, said. “To talk with not only the leadership of a facility, but to the end users of our systems, allowed me to dispel rumors and provide hands-on training.”

Splichal, along with Lorinda Ferraiolo, a Medical contracting officer, visited pharmaceutical customers in Japan, Korea, Guam and Hawaii between April 30 and May 14.

During the two-week period, the team trained Army, Air Force and Navy personnel on ordering systems, such as the Defense Medical Logistics enterprise, Trading Partners and the Medical Materiel Catalog.

“I love face-to-face customer service,” Ferraiolo said. “We strive to help the customers make their job easier so they can do what they have to do.” 

One of the challenges for customers was not getting their order in a timely fashion, Splichal said. This can be due to missing information on labels or a misunderstanding by the vendor. 

“In the past few months, we’ve had some materiel that’s become frustrated, meaning there is an issue, not with the materiel itself, but with the paperwork that goes along with it,” he said. “I was able to provide hands-on training to ensure the soldiers, airmen and seamen, who are on the ground, understood the requirements that are needed for every order.”

The ultimate goal was to let the customers know DLA is their support system, Ferraiolo said.

“We wanted them to know that we are here for them,” she said. “They are our customers and we are here to assist in any way we can.” 

Splichal echoed that sentiment and said that he often checks his work email at odd hours of the night to help customers in the Pacific. 

“I just reinforced that if they have an issue or a problem, they can contact us,” he said. “Most of our customers are on a 12-to--14 hour time difference and that can cause a delay if there is an issue. If I check my email at 11 o’clock at night and there is an issue, if I can’t fix it right then, I know what I need to do first thing in the morning.”

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brenden Le, head of the U.S. Naval Hospital Guam pharmacy department, appreciated having the Medical team out there for support.

“It was great to finally meet the faces of the folks we almost exclusively correspond with via email,” Le said. “We were looking forward to their visit to [Pacific Command], as the challenges we face out here are difficult to put into words. [Email] just doesn’t give the full picture where we’re trying to explain all the hoops we’re jumping through to maintain an adequate supply of medications to support our hospital and its mission.”

Le said the visit reassured him of the support he receives from the Medical team.

“It’s nice to know that we have not been abandoned or forgotten,” he said. “It sounds cliché but ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ It’s renewed our faith that we’re not fighting these problems alone.”