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Necessity Meets Opportunity

Bin-system-story-photo-1.jpgAs regional director of Supply Chain for Northern Light Inland, Sebasticook Valley, and CA Dean hospitals, along with Northern Light Continuing Care, Lakewood, Joe Theriault has been supporting a team comprised of Abigail Sears, RN, and Leigh Michaud, RN, as well as materials specialist Mark Noble, to come up with a better way to manage supply in Inland Hospital’s emergency department (ED). The result? A new periodic automatic replenishment (PAR) system made up of plastic bins of various sizes. The system, now in operation at Inland Hospital and consists of metal panels that are mounted to the walls with bins that hang securely from them. The bins are matched by size to the item and quantity that is maintained on the PAR. It has been beneficial for both the clinical and supply chain staff.

Regarding the involvement of nursing staff in the process, Inland Hospital’s ED director, Christin Rodriguez says, “I am happy that Abigail and Leigh are being recognized for their hard work. They worked for months cleaning up and organizing the ED along with Mark—this was truly their project. All of them completely deserve the recognition for their hard work.”

If an item has a lower turnover rate than another, a smaller bin can be used for that item, which allows space for a larger bin for an item with higher volume. The bins will also allow supply chain to rotate stock on a “first in”, “first out” process, meaning the stock that arrives first is the one used first. This greatly reducing outdates and stock outs. Overall, it is a better PAR management system.

“We are now in the middle of the process of setting up the same system at both Sebasticook Valley and CA Dean Hospitals with the same goal of satisfaction in mind,” says Joe. “Currently, the storage areas do not allow clinical and supply chain staff to be as efficient as possible. The new bin system will allow us to customize by size using the required storage area needed for items.”

An added benefit is that the bins are easier to clean than shelves and closets and help staff to comply with infection control. The flat front also enables supply chain to affix the bar code labels to them which makes the process of ordering the PARs faster and more efficient. With the assistance of a clinical champion, the flow is not only efficient for supply chain, but for the clinical staff who can then take care of patients in a more efficient manner.

“Joe and all the supply chain regional directors are charged with the responsibility of overseeing the availability of critical items,” comments Mike Whelan, vice president of Facilities and Supply Chain. “The creative use of a bin system is a great example of working with our clinical staff and being allowed to ask, ‘what if we try this?’ and then testing new methods. In this case, it looks like we have a winning approach that can be replicated throughout Northern Light Health.”