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Is Supply Chain Management the Next Victim of COVID-19? (Opinion)

A question we need answers to…

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Let’s start with the biggest myth in supply chain management for COVID-19 medical supplies, “The warehouses are full of material just waiting on an order.” Not true. Just recently, I was on a phone call with a company that has been in the supply chain management business for medical supplies for 10 years, and they told me that they were talking about a possible order for 10 million N95 masks. On the call were 12 brokers who all wanted a piece of the deal and 4 law firms who also wanted a part of the business. The phone call ended because the supplier, in reviewing the financial demands of all the players, had to raise the price to what he considered to be a gouging price. He turned down the deal because he did not want to sullen his reputation, and to boot, the phone call cost him over $4,000.

I spoke to a supplier that I have been working with for years in getting MP3 systems from China for my “Songs and Stories for Soldiers Foundation.” I asked him if he could get N95 masks. He said, “Do not let anybody tell you they have what you need in their warehouse, because they are lying to you. I can take your order and put you in line with the rest of the companies, and based on our backlog and pending orders, it will take at least 3 weeks, perhaps even longer to get you the items you want.”

We hear about all the stories as to the tens of millions of masks ordered, but the lead time is getting longer and longer. In many cases, orders placed in early March are only now shipping. We hear the officials tell us that they have ordered millions of masks, but the reality is that the whole world is ordering masks and other supplies. In fact, the world is really short of critical supplies.

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Now think about the hospitals, both public and private, the state and local governments, and the Veterans Administration, all wanting medical materials. I made a call to one of my VA contacts, and he told me that his procurement staff is working 14 to 16 hours a day trying to find supplies. As the pandemic expands, the need for ever-increasing supplies puts exploding pressure on the procurement staffs of all the agencies and health centers. My concern is that this important part of the supply chain is becoming more and more exhausted, both physically and mentally, in the desperate searches to find supplies.

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If the people who order and distribute the needed supplies can’t function, then they put the entire healthcare system and, in turn, us in danger. The longer the pandemic continues, I have real apprehension as to the risk of the supply chain failing. Recently, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) issued a comprehensive report on the dangers in the supply chain.

A recent article in the New York Times entitled, “At War With No Ammo: Doctors Say Shortage of Protective Gear Is Dire.” One hospital may be breaking the ice and admitting it is taking too much risk for the medical staff and the patients. The Open Cities Community Health Center in St. Paul, MN, is considering shutting down because it doesn’t have enough face masks.

“There’s absolutely no way to protect myself,” said Dr. Faezah A. Bux, an anesthesiologist in central Kentucky, who in recent days had to intubate several elderly patients in respiratory distress without the respirator masks and protective eye gear. 

One of the things that make the purchasing of medical supplies expensive and very time consuming is the explosion of brokers. As discussed in our example in the first paragraph, there were 12 brokers in the deal. Examples abound of the numbers of shady middlemen who only have been in the business for scant weeks and who are looking to make a quick buck, or should I say millions. The market is rife with phantom shipments, prices soaring by the hour, and goods even flown in on private planes.

What sounds like an organized-crime thriller in this pandemic is now the new reality for governors desperately trying to find the medical equipment their states need. With the federal stockpile dwindling fast, and the Trump administration limiting access to what’s left, state leaders are going to extraordinary measures on their own to secure face masks, ventilators, gloves, and other equipment essential to fighting the outbreak.

These public officials have ventured into a global market-place one governor described as the “wild, wild west,” where they compete against each other and their own federal government. They’ve watched the price of ventilators double, and masks go for 10 times their original price. Every time you add a middleman, you add to the cost of the product. It is the middlemen that are continually pressuring the procurement personnel, wearing them down until they accept the exorbitant prices.

As we head into what the president has described as the most challenging time ahead of us, we need to stop for a moment and look at how we are buying what we need. My greatest fear is the unscrupulous broker who is demanding millions of dollars of down payments and who will never deliver the goods and could very well escape with millions of public money.

I understand that all of our governments want to do the best they can for Americans. However, the harder they push to buy these needed materials, the more danger there is for them effectively to do their jobs. The job of procurement is not something where one can go to the local temp agency and get a replacement. I think procurement managers need to look at more alternatives including more scrutiny in securing medical supplies. In the next installment I will have some suggestion on supply chain management that won’t include 12 brokers.

Dan Perkins is a published author of 4 novels on nuclear and biological terrorism against the United States and is a current events commentator for over 20 news blogs. He appears on radio and TV between 40 and 60 times a month, depending on the news cycles, and on about 1,400 radio stations and TV networks. He is either a guest host or host on 4 weekly syndicated talk shows. Dan’s newest show is called “America’s Cannabis Conversation” on the W420radionetwork.com, a new show that broadcasts Saturday each week at 4:20 PM local time. More information on Perkins can be found at his web site danperkins.guru.

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Cable News Blasted for Conjuring Controversy in Columbus Police Shooting

This is just dirty.

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alexandria ocasio-cortez

The sad truth of the matter, when it comes to the mainstream media, is that they are more successful when we are more emotional. It’s a dirty trick of human biology:  The chemicals in our brain that allow us to feel joy, sorrow, humor, and fury are just similar enough to one another that we become addicted to them, one and all.  Feeling something stimulates our self-awareness, and we learn to crave it. So, when you tune into CNN and what they are saying angers you, they’re planting small hooks in your noggin, reeling you in to watch the commercials that pay all of their salaries. If you watch Fox, however, and you find yourself enthusiastically cheering after a host or guest has a mic drop moment, your brain again finds what it’s looking for, and here you are seeing your 14th Progressive commercial of the day. All of the big networks know this and actively participate in this salacious shamanism, and sometimes they cross the line. Liberal outlets HuffPost and AJ+ omitted key details or pushed false narratives in their videos about the fatal police shooting of a Black teenager in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday. HuffPost failed to note the woman who was shot, Ma’Khia Bryant, pushed another female to the ground and lunged at another with a knife when police arrived at the scene. The misleading HuffPo video was accompanied by the following text, which appeared to paint the police as the villain. “Black girl killed by police,” the text read. “Police in Columbus, OH shot & killed a Black teen around the same time the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial. Body-camera footage showed an officer firing several times at Ma’Khia Bryant before she collapsed to the ground. The video also showed a knife falling next to the…

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Derek Chauvin on Suicide Watch, Away From General Population

Chauvin’s incarceration will certainly not be a pleasant one once he leaves isolation.

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There is little doubt that Derek Chauvin is going to have a bad time in jail.  The former police officer was just convicted on several charges stemming from his involvement in the death of George Floyd, with one those charges being murder in the 3rd degree. Chauvin’s sentence won’t be known for some time, likely about 8 weeks, so there’s no telling just where he’ll wind up serving his time.  But ex-cops don’t fare all that well in certain prisons, and there will almost certainly be an incentive to tangle with the guy while he’s on the inside. For the time being, however, Chauvin is being kept separate from the general population, out of fear for his safety. Derek Chauvin has been pictured in his first mugshot taken at the maximum security prison in Minnesota where he’s on suicide watch after being found guilty on all three counts of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. The Minnesota Department of Corrections released the new booking photo on Wednesday morning as Chauvin woke up from his first night at MCF-Oak Park Heights. The 45-year-old dressed in an orange jumpsuit appeared tired and puffy-eyed with a frown and his hair in disarray. The mugshot was soon making the rounds online. https://twitter.com/ABC/status/1384867831792209921?s=20 Chauvin is expected to file an appeal in the coming weeks, possibly on the grounds that he could not have possibly received a fair trial with the statements being made in public by politicians such as Maxine Waters of California.

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