Webinar: Cooperative contracts play key role cleaning & protecting during pandemic
Counties and cities have efficiently acquired the personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning/disinfecting services they need during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to cooperative purchasing, say Lorie Newton and David Billingsley. Both of the local government procurement executives spoke recently at an OMNIA Partners webinar titled “Procuring During Pandemic.” The speakers discussed the needs their agencies are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic and how their suppliers are satisfying the agencies’ needs through OMNIA Partners.
Lorie Newton, Assistant Procurement Director of Chesterfield County, Va. (in the Greater Richmond Region), says her agency has partnered with Cintas for 36 years. The county pivoted to the OMNIA Partners’ cooperative agreement with Cintas a year and a half ago. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we can pick up the phone and quickly acquire hand sanitizer, sanitizer stands and PPE that are covered in the agreement. With the products, the county has been able to safely re-open several sites, including the Treasurer’s and Commissioner of the Revenue offices. Without Cintas and the cooperative agreement, we couldn’t have opened the facilities and provide a safe environment for workers and residents. This enables citizens to get county services.”
Through the agreement, Cintas offers sanitizer in bulk supply as a recurring service, as well as face shields, other PPE and uniforms. Cintas’s industrial laundry facilities follow a unique wash process developed in conjunction with its chemical provider, WSI, that is stronger than normal home laundry. The CDC has indicated that laundering of items contaminated with COVID-19 will remove the virus from those items. “The apparel is distributed to several departments, including the school division, public works, water and utilities departments,” Newton adds.
Cintas has been providing several cleaning products, including industrial disinfectant wipes, microfiber wipes and cleaning chemicals to help Chesterfield County meet new disinfecting requirements of the pandemic. The cleaning items have been vetted through the county’s risk management department. These products are available to outsourced cleaning contractors that the schools use to clean schools during evening hours. Cintas has developed business relationships with those contractors.
Looking toward the future, Newton adds: “Our procurement team will continue to utilize the OMNIA Partners’ cooperative contract for our schools to allow us to quickly pivot from virtual to in-person instruction as soon as the School Board and school leadership determine it is safe.”
David Billingsley, Chief Procurement Officer for City of Orlando, Fla., told webinar attendees that in February, the city identified PPE and safety-related products that would be needed to fight the pandemic. The products included N95 respirator masks, infrared thermometers, nitrile gloves isolation gowns, coveralls, decontamination wipes and disinfectant spray. “N95 respirators, gowns and disinfecting wipes presented the biggest challenge in obtaining gear for first responders, EMTs, and essential city employees, such as those in solid waste, code enforcement and fleet mechanics,” Billingsley said.
The Orlando procurement team assisted in a variety of other tasks, Billingsley explained. These included helping activate and stock the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), awarding contracts for cleaning and disinfecting services for city facilities, partnering with the county to acquire public testing sites and activating decontamination contracts and supply chains. The procurement team also has developed isolation scenarios and quarantine centers for the homeless.
To meet COVID-19 pandemic needs, Orlando has relied on three supply channels, Billingsley said. These include:
— Orlando placed supply requests through the EOC and deliveries were made from state depots through the county and to the city,
— The city collaborated with four suppliers that retooled their manufacturing lines to provide PPE, and
— Orlando worked with traditional suppliers including Safeware, a provider of public safety equipment and supplies including PPE for 40 years. Safeware is part of the Safeware-Mallory team that has an OMNIA Partners’ cooperative contract covering homeland security, public safety and emergency preparedness.
Vendor relationships have been important in helping his procurement team meet the needs of the city during the pandemic, Billingsley said. “In Orlando, we have partnered with Safeware for many years. Safeware was the first supplier I contacted at the start of the pandemic. We have constant and open communication with the company covering product options, availability and delivery information. Pricing under the cooperative contract has been consistent, Billingsley added. “There has been no price gouging; there has been no change in prices from pre-pandemic levels.”
At the webinar, Katie Roettgers, Senior Director of Education & Government Markets with Cintas, explained that her firm has 400 facilities in the U.S. that are available to assist communities nationwide in their supply needs. She noted the four categories of products that Cintas provides: uniforms and apparel, facility services, first aid and safety and fire protection. “Our cooperative agreement has enabled Cintas to provide a variety of products to government agencies even when supply chains are strained in the U.S. and globally,” she explained.
David Kidd, Director of Southern Sales with Safeware, talked about his firm’s 40-year history in the public safety industry. He explained that Safeware can provide many products needed for COVID-19 testing to public agencies, including testing sites and equipment, cots, medical beds and tents. His firm, he added, provides wipes, other disinfecting materials, PPE, as well as other items that can be used if there is a surge of infections. Through its OMNIA Partners cooperative contract, Safeware offers products that are National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved including N95 respirators from 3M, Honeywell and other firms and DuPont Tyvek coveralls.
The “Procuring During Pandemic” webinar site enables easy registering to view the on-demand event, which runs about 20 minutes. This takes public purchasers to a variety of COVID-19 resources for agencies.
Michael Keating is senior editor for American City & County and the GPN web site. Contact: [email protected]