A Centralized Approach to Supplies in the COVID Era

Publication Date
10/1/2020

In June, VPF announced the new COVID-19 Store—a central supply source of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies—hosted on the Buy-to-Pay (B2P) system and available to the Institute’s DLCs at no cost.

Tim the Beaver wearing a mask

“As MIT began its research ramp up, and in advance of students returning to campus, we worked with many of our tried and true Preferred Suppliers including Staples, Grainger, Fisher Scientific, and other suppliers to create a reliable on-campus supply of these essential items,” says Christina Lo, VPF Director of Strategic Sourcing and Contracts. “Our goal was to make it as easy as possible for the community to get supplies, and simply not have to worry about acquiring masks, gloves, disinfectants, and cleaning and safety items, especially at a time when many supply chains were disrupted and expected to fluctuate. We leveraged our already existing B2P platform to create a catalog of these supplies, for ease of ordering by the community. Our suppliers stepped up to help us stock our store and arranged flexible delivery and warehousing options for us.”
 
The idea for the COVID-19 Store emerged following the efforts that began in late March to collect and provide supplies of PPE for donations to health care workers and first responders.
 
“We worked with Dr. Elazer Edelman, Director of the MIT Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, who chairs the MIT task force on PPE, and by working with him and many others across the Institute, we realized we could place recurring bulk orders instead of having the campus community scrambling for the same supplies,” says Christina, who collaborated with Vice President for Campus Services and Stewardship Joe Higgins, Martin O’Brien from Campus Services, Ron Hasseltine from the Office of Vice President for Research, Leny Gocheva from the Koch Institute, Peter Cummings from the Division of Student Life, Brain Schuetz from MIT Medical, Nicolas Paquin from Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), and Elizabeth McManus from Office of the Executive Vice President and Treasurer.
 
The store has been a resounding success in its first months of operation, with 722 orders placed and delivered by MIT Mail Services to individual DLCs, and 98 percent of orders delivered within 24 hours.
 
“This was an MIT-style innovation that will make us rethink many of our supply processes from the pre-COVID era and perhaps inspire us to reinvent some of our practices,” says Christina. “For now, we’re focused on maintaining stocks of these essential supplies, and keeping our community safe.”