The coronavirus pandemic increased the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) in Finland and globally.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for PPE – e.g. surgical face masks, protective coats, protective gloves and hand sanitizer – skyrocketed in Finland and globally in spring 2020. At the same time, the prices of these items multiplied.

HUS Logistics began to ramp up the procurement and logistics of PPE and intensive care supplies at the very start of the pandemic in our daily reviews. We also devised a predictive model for consumption of PPE.

Several coordination groups were set up at HUS in which we participated in our role as procurement and logistics expert. The PPE working group, for instance, was tasked with keeping PPE guidelines up to date and for coordinating PPE communications.

Ensuring availability and just-in-time logistics

We aimed to focus on using our contract suppliers for the procurement of PPE, but because the products subject to these contracts were not available, we were forced to resort to a wide range of suppliers and in many cases to acquire several similar products for a particular purpose. Even in the course of the pandemic, we always aimed to ensure that a legal case pursuant to the Act on Public Procurement and Concession Contracts could be made for direct procurement.

Because huge quantities of PPE were acquired and consumed, we were obliged to rent additional storage space in the Helsinki metropolitan area. We also established new supply routes to ensure that the units most critical for dealing with the pandemic received a sufficient supply of PPE. We also offered healthcare logistics services to intensive care units caring for coronavirus patients.

We prepared in good time for the coronavirus vaccinations that began towards the end of the year by acquiring vaccination supplies for local authorities and for HUS.

National cooperation is key

Like the logistics organizations in all other university hospital districts, we have been involved in the national coordination group for material preparedness appointed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in spring 2020 for maintaining a national situational awareness of material preparedness in social welfare and health care, including PPE.

In spring 2020, we led the establishment of a procurement ring by the university hospital districts for joint procurement of PPE. The procurements made by this procurement ring also facilitated the rapid startup of domestic PPE production. The joint procurements of university hospital districts were reviewed on a weekly basis with the Defense Forces and the National Emergency Supply Agency. We are also the supply channel of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health for coronavirus testing materials at the national level.

As instructed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, we distributed materials from the National Emergency Supply Agency to our member municipalities and to hospital districts in our Specific Catchment Area.