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Q&A: Brian Dawson at Common Spirit Health

April 5, 2021

Interviewed By: Ken Murawski

The “Supplier Spotlight” and “Provider Spotlight” series is our interview of a supplier or provider in a standard Q & A format.

This month we had the opportunity to interview Brian Dawson, System VP of Perioperative Services – CommonSpirit Health.

Healthcare Links: Tell us a little about yourself and your role at CommonSpirit Health?

Brian: I am the System Vice President of Perioperative Services for Common Spirit Health, which is a new health system we created 2 years ago. It’s the union of Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives.

Healthcare Links: How did you handle the PPE crisis at CommonSpirit?

Brian: We have a very dynamic inclusive supply chain department, which I work closely with, along with one of my counterparts who is the Vice President of Infection Prevention. When Covid first started there was a lot of work done, around identifying PPE needs based on CDC recommendations. Our supply chain consists of a couple of group two that we worked with closely, one that specializes in surgical services; one that specializes in product implementation and the last group that was specifically assigned for finding sources and procurement of PPE. We have a phenomenal supply sourcing and implementation team.

We had a process in place where we could decontaminate PPE masks if needed using our low temperature sterilizers. Fortunately we never got to the point where we needed to do that.

We are a well-oiled-team made up of a supply chain’s surgical service team, a procurement team, leaders of our SPD and perioperative services subcommittees and myself that all work together in reducing and consolidating supply costs and implementation. A good example of this is that recently it was brought to my attention that a surgical gown that was being used from China was not double wrapped. So it could not be opened sterilely, within 24 hours we sent this to our implementation team to make sure the OR’s knew not to use that gown. At the same time we reached out to the procurement team to let them know these are gowns that can be used elsewhere in the health system.

Healthcare Links: What did you learn bringing two large Health Systems together?

Brian: Communication, communication, communication.

With Covid erupting over the past year we were able to fairly quickly get contact information for all the perioperative leaders across CommonSpirit and create email groups, where we can all communicate together. About 9 months ago we created the CommonSpirit Health perioperative council, which consists of leaders from each of our divisions, as well as two of our lead perioperative educators, and leaders from SPD and supply chain.

This committee meets every month and the minutes from that meeting get disseminated to the OR leaders and chief nurses of all our facilities. We share information constantly across the system. The major thing that has made us successful is coming together and sharing information in real-time.

Healthcare Links: What was your experience moving from two GPOs to one?

Brian: I give supply chain credit. It’s really been seamless. Us end-users would really never know. Some of our region works off the contract we have with Medline and others work with Cardinal. It’s very seamless.

Healthcare Links: Any advice you can give someone having gone from two health systems to one or two GPOs to one?

A lot of heavy lifting was done by supply chain leadership. They looked across our contracts, pricing and so forth to make sure that we were in line.

With regards to supply chain needs in the OR. Our elective surgical volume has dropped but it’s now starting to climb back up. Thankfully we never ran into a situation where we didn’t have what we needed to meet the surgical workload at any given time throughout the pandemic, that was due to supply chain leadership at the division and national levels.

Healthcare Links: How has the added safety concerns affected you in the OR?

Brian: We have it wired now. We very quickly worked out a process for perioperative testing. We offered online training for patients on what to expect when they came into the hospital. Also limiting the number of individuals who could come in with them, making sure everyone wore a face mask, added a lot of signage to make sure loved ones knew where they can isolate while they waited for someone in surgery. Generally things have worked out really well. It’s humming along, like second nature now.

Now the discussion is about what we do with the people who have been vaccinated? How do we manage the vaccinated perioperative patients? How do we get back to the new normal?

Our team is really good at making sure we have the latest recommendations from the CDC, FDA, AORN and AAMI. Back to a comment I made earlier, it’s all about communication!

Healthcare Links: How do you see supply chain changing going forward, specifically working with vendors?

Brian: I haven’t personally experienced too much of this because, as I said we have a great team in the supply chain. On my end if we say we don’t have a certain product they do a great job sourcing to make sure we have what we need. We’ve got great relationships with our vendors. We try to move to the concept of vendor as our partner in providing world class healthcare. We’ve been very successful with that.

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