Hazel Carleton unpacks carton of gloves

Hazel Carleton, a member of the Supply Support team, unpacks a carton of nitrile gloves.

When Mustapha Khiyaty joined the Brigham’s Supply Support team 10 years ago, the importance of his contributions as a supply supervisor for Labor and Delivery and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit became apparent to him almost immediately.

“It makes you feel like you’re making a difference when you see a new mom with a smile on her face,” said Khiyaty, now an inventory controller on the 42-person Supply Support team.

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Part of Materials Management, Supply Support oversees the procurement, stocking and distribution of clinical supplies — such as bandages, gloves and syringes — throughout the hospital. At an institution as large and busy as the Brigham, this is no small feat. The team maintains 90 supply areas, and at any given time manages a total inventory of about 1,300 items.

To accomplish this, members of the team work closely with staff and distributors to ensure clinical areas have the supplies they need to deliver safe, high-quality care.

A tight-knit unit with a shared passion for helping others — and each other — the team emphasizes that their close bond is key to their success.

“On our team, it’s easy to care about the people you’re working with,” said Dave Shelton, a Supply Support manager.

Always on the Lookout

On a typical day, the first shift arrives and evaluates the status of current supplies, places orders as needed and responds to supply requests or concerns. When the team’s second-shift staff arrive, they unload any newly delivered supplies, put together orders for different areas of the hospital and make deliveries. Staff on the third shift assist with any remaining supply deliveries for the day.

Even getting a single box of disposable gloves to an individual hospital room takes a great deal of care and coordination, team members say, and everyone works together to ensure nothing gets left behind or lost in the process.

“No task is too small for anyone on our team, no matter your role,” Khiyaty said.

Mustapha Khiyaty examining shelves with supplies

Mustapha Khiyaty examines the stock of clinical supplies in one of the team’s main inventory areas.

Supply Support staff work to anticipate future needs. They track and analyze previous records and data to plan and account for a variety of situations so that they can anticipate supply needs for whatever may come their way. They maintain a robust backup inventory in case an unexpected event — including everything from snowstorms to supply shortages — interrupts regular deliveries.

If an unavoidable supply disruption does occur, they pivot quickly to identify and procure alternatives.

“We have to look at the news and be proactive,” Khiyaty said.

Like a Family

Supply Support staff say one special component about the team is its retention rate, with many members being part of the Brigham for 10 to 20 years.

“We get to see the people we started with getting married and having kids,” Shelton said.

In addition to creating a family feel, the prevalence of long tenures on the team has resulted in a wealth of institutional knowledge and given staff the opportunity to support their colleagues’ growth and development.

“Brigham has always been nice to me. I’ve been here for almost half my life. I care about the people who work for me and whom I work with,” said Benjamin Wallace, operations team manager.

“Behind the Scenes at the Brigham” is a monthly series in Brigham Bulletin that provides a glimpse of the people whose everyday contributions help make the Brigham a world-class institution. Is there a team you’d like to see featured? Send your ideas to bulletin@bwh.harvard.edu.