One of the most-loved stories of the holiday season is that of Santa Claus, keeping track all year of the needs and wants of boys and girls, then packing and delivering the right gifts to the right homes year after year, without a hitch.
But just as Santa has an army of elves helping him, the doctors and nurses at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center have a dedicated team of individuals who work every day to make sure that all of the supplies that make a hospital run are in the right place at the right time.
Supply Chain is a team of four people: Director Quinn Hill, Assistant Director Tatiana Stoeckel and technicians MaKeyva Pemberton and Anthony Smith.
They are the hospital equivalent of Santa's elves.
"Whether it's a Bandaid or an MRI machine or an implant for a surgery, if it deals with patient care, it comes across one of our desks at some point," Hill said.
This includes items that make the hospital more comfortable--like hats and blankets for newborns, and masks and gloves that allow loved ones to visit sick patients--as well as life-saving devices such as cardiac implants.
"We make sure people have what they need to care for our patients," Hill said.
No two days on the job look the same.
Stoeckel and the technicians start with the 24 supply rooms spread out across the hospital.
"On a daily basis, we inventory those rooms, we order for those rooms, the truck comes in and we stock those rooms," she said. "It really is like being Santa's little helpers."
Beyond that, the team tries to be as proactive as possible, anticipating what will be needed so that can be in place in an emergency.
That starts with the strong communication that is the backbone of how Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center operates.
"I have not seen a hospital that communicates as well as Spotsy does," Hill said. It's just something about the culture."
Hill begins every day with a huddle with all hospital department heads, so that everyone can know what to expect. Supply Chain technicians fan out to the various wards to keep on top of how many surgeries are planned or anticipated for the day.
When Stoeckel and her team members walk the halls, they take every opportunity to observe needs, trends and other clues to what the hospital's near-term needs might be.
Supply Chain also works with the hospital's finance team to make sure patients get the most bang for their buck from the supplies that are used during their hospital stay. That work is done through a group called the Supply Management Action Team.
"Its purpose is to make sure we have the best, most clinically appropriate items at a financially responsible price," Hill said. "There might be the newest and greatest widget out there that everybody has got to have, but if they have it marked up 1,000 percent, is that doing our patients the best service? Giving them a crazy high bill is not going to help them in the long run."
Once the team identifies the best options, Hill can enlist the buying power of HCA's worldwide network of hospitals to ensure the item comes at the best possible price.
Unlike Santa Claus, the Supply Chain team has to repeat this intricate process every single day. But as they are ordering and stocking supplies that range from basic first aid to highly specialized equipment, they look beyond the items themselves and see the patients these things will eventually help.
"I know that what I am doing is making a difference," Stoeckel said. "It's being able to supply what's needed so that people can get better and get on with their lives."