Mercy Responds to Weather Crisis

February 9, 2011


Mercy’s supply chain trucks pulled
over because of hazardous winter weather

Story Covered by

By Mercy's Kate Miller

During what has been dubbed the “Blizzards of 2011” for some hard-hit areas of the Midwest, some organizations may close for business, but hospitals must remain open to serve patients. The 28 hospitals that are part of the Sisters of Mercy Health System are able to provide needed care to patients through an internal supply chain division that works around the clock to keep hospitals well-stocked with supplies, pharmaceuticals, food and other essentials.

“Leaders throughout Mercy recognize the potential for supply delays with these storms and prepare by bulking up orders before the storms hit,” said Scott Nelson, vice president of Resource Optimization & Innovation (ROi), Mercy’s supply chain that manages and moves supplies across Mercy’s four-state service area. “On Jan. 31, we had the heaviest order filling day in our history.”

With a Consolidated Supply Center in Springfield, Mo., Mercy is able to stockpile critical supplies so they are at the ready when needed. Because of that, Mercy is less affected by delays or delivery cancellations from manufacturers. Deferring deliveries is not an option because of patient need, so whether Mercy’s ROi drivers are going out by courier van or tractor-trailer, they continue on their routes.

Most deliveries arrived at their destination without incident this past week but four vehicles got trapped in snow, Nelson said. Drivers had to walk a mile or more in the elements to the nearest hotel. The next day, they pulled one of those trucks out and spent three hours in the cold loading it with cargo from the other truck.

About 10 miles outside of Carthage, Mo., a farmer used his tractor to help a third ROi tractor-trailer driver escape a snowy landing. A fourth driver was on his way back from Fort Smith, Ark., when he got stuck. His truck was stranded for three days before members of the safety and security department at Mercy’s St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., were able to dig it out. Another driver spent the night in his ROi truck after driving 5 to 10 mph for hours on icy roads between Springfield, Mo., and Oklahoma City, Okla.

“Our drivers were real heroes during this weather crisis. They put themselves in peril on treacherous roads to make sure patients didn’t go without needed supplies,” said Nelson. “We’re incredibly fortunate because everyone was safe and all orders were met. Our patients are what motivate us to find creative ways to make sure our medical teams across four states have the supplies they need, especially in an emergency situation.”

Weather Crisis Photos for Media Use

01 – One of Mercy’s ROi trucks, carrying critical supplies, gets stuck in winter weather.
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02 – One of Mercy’s supply chain trucks, carrying critical medical, surgical and pharmaceutical supplies, has to pull over because of hazardous winter weather.
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03 – Inside view of what Mercy’s supply chain truck drivers have had to weather during wintry blasts across Midwest.
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04 – Total white out as Mercy ROi trucks were trying to deliver critical medical supplies to facilities across Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri.
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