Giving, Caring and Preparing During COVID-19

For the last few weeks, as the COVID-19 emergency has unfolded nationwide, we at Millstone have sought ways to respond that can support and express solidarity for our colleagues in the medical industry. We have focused on the safety and wellbeing of our staff in Fall River, MA and Olive Branch, MS. We have found means to give where it will benefit the greater good. In this challenging time, we are also strategically preparing for the eventual reopening of our nation.

Giving through donation

Personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages nationwide put frontline healthcare workers like doctors and nurses at risk of exposure to COVID-19. This very real threat concerns Millstone leadership, as it concerns many others. This month, Millstone made a donation of PPE items to the mayor of Fall River, MA to be distributed to facilities with the greatest need. These items included a pallet of booties and several cartons of protective gloves.

“While we are a medical manufacturing facility,” general manager Tom Williams says, “the majority of PPE used in our work is not what is needed on the frontline of the pandemic. We also can’t make the PPE that is needed, so we donated what we could from our inventory of items to make a difference in healthcare workers’ protection from COVID-19.”

In addition to its PPE donations, Millstone has also donated 90,000 meals to Feeding America as a way to give back. “Our CEO was inspired by Feeding America’s efforts before and during the pandemic and felt it was a good avenue of giving for us,” Williams says. As a nonprofit with highly efficient operations, Feeding America is able to direct 98% of every gift back out into areas of need.

The donation represents 100 meals for every Millstone employee as well as an additional 35,000 meals personally championed by the executive leadership team. “We challenged each other as a leadership team to augment the initial gift. We can’t make PPE, so this gift is a way we can make a difference as a company.”

Caring for employees

The safety and wellbeing of the Millstone team has been of paramount importance during this time. Millstone has followed CDC recommendations and has implemented additional safety and cleaning measures in both its Massachusetts and Mississippi campuses. Employees who can do so have been working from home, while essential staff continues working in facility buildings. Millstone has modified shift start and end times to eliminate the crossover of multiple shifts in facilities. In addition, facilities are always thoroughly cleaned in between shifts, a part of the normal Millstone protocol. “While we clean intently every day under normal circumstances,” Williams notes, “we have ramped up that regular cleaning with additional external resources during this time.”

For additional protection and support, Millstone has also purchased multiple cloth masks for each essential employee. These were made by a local Fall River business that has switched its factory production from cushions to cloth masks during the COVID-19 emergency.

During this time, Millstone management has also focused on employees’ wellbeing with specific initiatives. “Not enough has been said about the mental anguish those who come to work each day are feeling,” says Williams. “Everyone feels pressure from work and family responsibilities from this situation. We understand that as much as we are trying to operate normally, this is not a normal time, and it’s not normal for our team.”

To normalize and create predictability as much as possible, Millstone management has given all employees a set schedule. In addition, each employee was given a gift with a message. “We said ‘use this for something that will bring you joy,’” Williams explains. Employees were also encouraged to consider spending their gift locally whenever possible, to support businesses in the community.

Preparing for recovery

While it’s uncertain exactly when resumption of normal activity will occur, Millstone is already preparing. As an essential business, Millstone remains focused on the services and products it delivers and we will be ready for increased demand of these products  after the surge of critical COVID-19 cases is over. In addition, the orthopedics industry has a relatively long lead time of 12 to 20 weeks, so work continues on production that predates the outbreak.

Millstone’s business changes and continuity plans had originally been set through April 10 and were extended through April 17. “We’re taking it day to day and week to week as things are changing rapidly and we want to be responsive to our industry and our staff,” says Williams.

During this time, Millstone is focused on four key internal preparedness priorities:

  • Strong supply chain: Communicating with vendors to ensure a strong supply chain and the availability of materials, so that there will be no delays in supply once elective surgeries surge back
  • Low lead times: Keeping lead times low so that when the potential for volume increases returns, Millstone is ready to meet that increase
  • Engaged workforce: Helping to manage workforce stress and emphasizing communication. We will get past the pandemic and Millstone will return to a new normal
  • Ready for full capacity: Once the current stage of the pandemic ends, Millstone will be ready to deliver at full capacity for customers immediately.

Customer recommendations

As orthopedic manufacturers contend with the present challenges, it’s important to also be planning for economic recovery. During this time, Millstone recommends that orthopedic OEMs focus on:

  • Planning and communicating with their external customers about the current timelines, what they mean, and how quickly they will ramp back up in the coming months
  • Forecasting inventory levels to ensure that, given lead times, they will have what they need to meet demand with supply
  • Engaging their supply base of vendors and partners on their expectations and plans for business continuity in the new normal
  • Strategizing on effective, rapid distribution of devices and sets, as distribution centers will be overflowing because of the elective surgery shutdowns

How Millstone can help

OEMs facing challenges in planning, forecasting, supply base coordination or distribution can tap a strategic partner like Millstone for help during this time. With a new building opening next week, Millstone has the space, capacity, and expertise to help.

“As hard as it may be to pinpoint a date right now, this time will come to an end,” Williams concludes. “When it does, we will be ready for the new normal—and will help our customers to be, too.”

About Millstone

At Millstone, we believe that quality drives patient success and that the expertise of a trusted outsourcing partner can help mitigate risk. That’s why we’ve perfected all the capabilities medical device manufacturers need to get to market. Today we offer post-manufacturing and aftermarket services to more than 50 customers, including some of the top 10 orthopedic companies in the world. We are constantly evolving our processes and services to help OEMs achieve sustainable success. We offer clean room packaging, medical device specific warehousing, finished goods distribution, loaner kit management, advanced inspection and reverse logistics services—all with an unparalleled focus on quality.

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