Tina Thomas, Senior Vice-President of Operations for Mission Health Communities, remembers the day Jody Pelot, her DSSI Procurement Services lead, called to give her a heads-up.
“It was February 16, 2020,” Thomas said, in a phone interview. “We knew there was this virus called Covid, but it was in Wuhan.”
She didn’t know it would be a problem for Mission’s 54 rehab and senior living communities in 12 states, but Pelot knew.
“Jody said there would be a supply crunch in N95 masks,” Thomas said. “He said we had to get ready. And Procurement Services got the order out, and we got our allocation.”
This is just one way the partnership with DSSI has helped Mission meet its procurement goals.
Privately held Mission, founded in 2006 with eight communities in two states, has grown rapidly in recent years. Mission has been a DSPS customer since 2014, although they’ve used the DSSI platform since 2013.
“At the time, when we started with DSSI, we had 17 buildings with a total of 100,000 supply items,” she said. “Our coding was a hot mess. There were duplicates, incorrect numbers – it was ridiculous. Jody and his team cleaned it all up.”
When Mission’s chief procurement/risk management officer left in 2014, the company chose to expand its relationship with DSSI Procurement Services. Quarterly reports detailing spend and savings, ready access to the DSSI team, close ties to DSSI’s network of over 400 suppliers, and membership in the company’s Group Purchasing Organization have saved Mission money and eased the procurement burden in both the central office and on-site agents.
The system has also promoted transparency, contract compliance, and best-practice procurement out in the field.
“It had been like the Wild West out there, with everyone ordering from local mom-and-pop firms,” Thomas said. “It’s good to keep some business local, and it can make sense to buy local for certain items. But for the big spends, we go to the preferred vendors on DSSI.”
That vendor list is not static. The DSSI team constantly evaluates vendors and analyzes which ones best meet the needs of clients. During the worst days of the pandemic, Thomas and her dietary managers began to think they might be better served by a different food supplier. She’d heard good things about a supplier and asked Pelot to investigate it. He came back with a positive review and helped Thomas and her people make the transition.
“With DSSI,” Thomas said, “dietary managers can see all the rebates we have coming and can keep on top of the actual cost.”
Quarterly DSSI Procurement reviews include consideration of vendors in all relevant categories, including food, consumable medical supplies, medical equipment rental, office supplies and, more recently, such services as transportation and telecommunication. The DSSI team relentlessly hunts for the highest quality and the best price for its clients, and they don’t wait for the client to call with a problem.
Thomas estimates that DSSI Procurement Services has saved Mission about $1 million on an annualized basis.
Thanks to DSSI Procurement Services’ supplier relationships, Mission has been able to main their stock of critical items, including PPE, despite Covid-driven supply chain issues while buffering inflation. Thomas said that inflation pressure in Mission’s procurement categories is just starting to ease and that Pelot’s team has been vigilant about the return of discounts, rebates, and lower prices as markets return to more normal conditions.
Thomas also stressed the personal relationship she has with many DSPS team members, highlighting the ways they understand both her and her communities. This understanding enables Pelot and his team to not only react to Mission’s needs but to anticipate them. Beyond that, they’re on alert for new dangers and opportunities that lie ahead.
“They’re supportive in so many ways,” Thomas said. “They’re smart, savvy people. I can call up and say I need these three things, and they’re so quick on the turnaround. And they do all the analytics, which allows us to be strategic with our procurement.
“Jody helps me figure out everything – opportunities, great new vendors, price efficiencies. We have a great relationship with DSSI. They’ve got our backs.”
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