Teams across Mass General Brigham (MGB) and the Brigham have been planning to ensure we can effectively and safely care for patients during a surge. Our plans address how we will adjust our operations when patient levels reach 25 percent, 50 percent or 100 percent of our peak patient level during the initial surge — which at the Brigham was 197 inpatients.

This week, Doug Carney, AIA, MBA, senior vice president, Real Estate, Facilities, and Operations, shares details about our plans for personal protective equipment (PPE).

What are the key lessons we learned during the initial surge that have influenced our planning for a second surge? 

Doug Carney

Carney: During the initial wave of COVID, we struggled with N95 masks, cleaning wipes of all kinds and, to a lesser degree, scrubs, gowns, gloves and surgical caps. This happened because the supply chain for things we normally use to keep our environment clean and safe was disrupted, and the demand for many of these items increased significantly. And it made a difficult situation even more stressful for our staff.

We’ve worked hard to be better prepared locally and as a system for a future surge. Over the summer, Mass General Brigham built an appropriate reserve of key materials based on our experience in the spring and extensive demand-scenario modeling. We’ve also worked to diversify our supply chain. As a result of this work, and agreements with national supply chains that have ramped up on-shore production, we believe we’ll have a consistent flow of the supplies we need most to deliver our Safe Care Commitment.

What are you anticipating will be the key challenges for PPE in a second surge? 

Carney: We have done everything we can to be ready for a second surge, and are confident that we have sufficient supplies on hand to last us into spring 2021. We are closely watching the global nature of the surge that is happening now, which has the potential to disrupt manufacturing and distribution.

What are the most important things all Brigham staff should know about the second surge plan for PPE?  

Carney: While PPE and supplies are limited resources, we are confident — based on our sophisticated modeling — that both our PPE and our critical supplies will last well into 2021, given expected use rates, assuming that we all follow our extended use and reuse policies.

That said, we have to be good stewards — together — of all these resources because we know that even though we have solid plans and contingencies, the unexpected can still happen.

Finally, we need to help each other. We all forget to wear our mask at times or slip in other ways; we’re human. Remind each other to be diligent and safe — and that it’s OK to laugh while doing this.