Thursday, February 26, 2015

Emergency Preparedness and Recovery in a Hospital - A Great Professor for a Day!

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Brian Rust, the Director of Security Services at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, which is now owned by Mass General Hospital, speak to my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class.

Mr. Rust was originally scheduled to speak the week before but he had several emergencies to contend with and I am not talking about patient emergencies, so he had to reschedule.

Mr. Rust was a terrific Professor for a Day - sharing with us the planning behind emergency preparedness in a hospital, which aims to provide "the best healthcare in an appropriate setting."
Last week he had to contend with multiple emergencies, beginning with a computer failure on Monday, which was fixed by a Cisco switch brought in from eastern MA, followed by  complete communication failure on Wednesday (supposedly not related to the Monday one)  with no Internet or phone lines available. Hence, medical records could not be accessed, and CAT scans and X-rays could not be read. Back to documentation on paper, which he said the older healthcare providers were comfortable with since they had used such basic approaches earlier in their careers, in contrast to the more recently trained healthcare workers, which are so dependent on computers. Appointments had to be cancelled. This major disruption was fixed on Wednesday but then Wednesday afternoon a sprinkler pipe burst and flooded the back of the Emergency Room with thousands of gallons of water pouting in. Moreover, the water was not clean but dark and the texture of oil, he said.  There is a new cancer facility being constructed above the Emergency Room area and it seems that the pipe was not properly insulated.  With facility experts on hand (luckily, he said, not everything has been outsourced) in a few hours the area was cleaned up and disinfected. During that period, however, ambulances had to be diverted to other hospitals, which can be "expensive" in terms of additional time needed for delivering the patient and in that Cooley Dickinson loses any financial compensation since it did not serve those patients. He noted that 4 ambulances were diverted.

His talk was fascinating and illustrated how much a community relies on a hospital as do first responders. He spoke on the importance of emergency preparedness and justifying it to highers-up and even mentioned that 70 staff members slept in the hospital during our recent snowstorm(s) since transportation may have been an issue and staff was needed. Hence, more food had to be supplied. 

There were many very interesting points that he made, sometimes in a graphical way, as when he discussed "Med-slides," which are used to move patients down stairs in case of a power failure with elevators not functioning.  He also noted that medicines, typically, arrive "just-in-time" on a daily basis so when there may be transport failures that could be an issue. He  spoke about a federal mandate that requires hospitals to be able to recover in 96 hours and maintain operations during that period.

We very much appreciate Mr. Rust sharing his wealth of expertise with us and thank Cooley Dickinson for all it does for healthcare in our community. His presentation and the discussions will keep us thinking and reflecting for a long time to come!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Thanks to Kim Goulette, Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross

Yesterday, the new Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross in western Massachusetts, Ms. Kim Goulette, spoke to the students in my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class.

Ms. Goulette assumed this position after the retirement of Mr. Rick Lee, who had served with the Red Cross for over 3 decades and who spoke to my students in previous years on 2 separate occasions. As Kim said to the students: "She has big shoes to fill!"

She provided the class with a brief history of the Red Cross and Clara Barton, of course, and emphasized what is unique about the Red Cross as a nonprofit organization, which was very interesting. The Red Cross provides immediate response to people in need because of disasters  and, in a sense, consists of  "first responders," about 97% of whom are volunteers.  Whether it is food, blankets, drinks, or even teddy bears for children in the nearterm, or shelter, food, and resources during the recovery phase, Red Cross volunteers are there to help. I saw such teddy bears last spring when I had the honor of attending the Hometown Heroes breakfast in Springfield as a guest of Mr. Rick Lee's.

Ms. Goulette spoke about the big fire in Amherst last summer in an apartment complex at which she assisted after only about 1 week on the job.She also spoke about the role of the Red Cross in feeding the National Guardsmen who were deployed to eastern MA because of the multiple immense snowfalls this winter that disrupted lives, transportation, and other infrastructure because frozen and burst pipes and collapsed roofs.

She mentioned the gains for the community through the new Red Cross Springfield headquarters with its activities, including blood donations, under one roof. This consolidation has resulted in increased efficiencies in disaster responses.

Ms. Goulette highlighted the various activities of the Red Cross in communities that some may not be as aware of, such as the call centers for military families (Rick Lee's brilliant idea), CPR training and certification, youth programs, international programs, and volunteer training.

She shared many fascinating facts with us such as that every 9 minutes the Red Cross is responding to a disaster and it spends $360 million preparing for disasters. It is entirely dependent on donors for funding and she mentioned the challenges associated with financial donations that are earmarked for a particular disaster. In the US, there are 61,000 shelter sites, which include schools, and with the mobile kitchens, the RC is able to serve up to 1 million meals a day.  I was curious so I asked what meals the National Guardsmen were provided in the Boston area recently and she mentioned chicken soup, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hot chocolate, and coffee. The volunteers get woken up at 2AM and then retrieved the supplies for delivery in eastern MA.

I found the challenging new landscape of blood donations and collections very interesting since, along with two of my doctoral students, who are now professors, Amir H. Masoumi, and Min Yu, I wrote several articles on blood supply chains.  She mentioned "competition" in the blood supply chain industry, which one would not normally think of, different surgical procedures, which are resulting in less blood loss and, hence, need for transfusions, and also the emphasis on decreasing wastage. The Red Cross now supplies only about 40% of the blood in the US. We in Operations Management always care about supply meeting demand and, in this sector, there is the perishability aspect of blood, and uncertainty as to demand (for unscheduled procedures due to accidents, for example) as well as to supply (will the donors show up and, if so, how many).

There were many questions from the students and I am sure many thoughtful reflections that continue.

Thanks to Ms. Kim Goulette for the great lecture and to the American Red Cross and other Red Cross societies for great work in disaster relief and reducing human suffering!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Supply Chain Performance Assessment - Identifying the Importance of Components, Suppliers, and Firms in the Network Economy

This morning, in sunny and warm Florida, my doctoral student Dong "Michelle" Li will be presenting one of our latest supply chain papers at the World Congress of Global Optimization.

The paper is: Supply Chain Performance Assessment and Supplier and Component Importance Identification in a General Competitive Multitiered Supply Chain Network Model, Dong Li and Anna Nagurney.

 The full presentation can be downloaded here.

 Research on the topic was inspired, in part, by discussions and talks at the fabulous Workshop on Vulnerability and Resilience of Supply Chains in Zurich, Switzerland in September 2013 at which I had the pleasure of being an invited speaker. It was also great to see Dr. Yossi Sheffi of MIT, the author of The Resilient Enterprise,  there. I could not resist hugging him, since he was my host at MIT when I held an NSF Visiting Professorship for Women there in the Center for Transportation and Logistics.

Given that the number of disasters is growing, as well as the number of people affected by disasters, it makes sense to capture the interdependencies in today's complex supply chain networks and their roles in the Network Economy. Our research reported on the above paper and talk develops a multitiered competitive supply chain network game theory model, which includes the supplier tier. The firms are differentiated by brands and can produce their own components, as reflected by their capacities, and/or obtain components from one or more suppliers, who also are capacitated. The firms compete in a Cournot-Nash fashion, in quantities,  whereas the suppliers compete a la Bertrand, in prices.

All decision-makers seek to maximize their profits with consumers reflecting their preferences through the demand price functions associated with the demand markets for the firms’ products. We construct supply chain network performance measures for the full supply chain and the individual firm levels that assess the efficiency of the supply chain or firm, respectively, and also allow for the identification and ranking of the importance of suppliers as well as the components of suppliers with respect to the full supply chain or individual firm. The framework is then  illustrated through a series of numerical supply chain network examples.

The framework allows for the identification of the importance of components and suppliers to the individual firm supply chains and to the supply chain network of multiple firms.  The latter can be very useful to policy makers in determining the impact of the removal of nodes from an industry supply chain due to natural disasters, business failures, etc.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Resilience in a Winter of Disruptions

At the Isenberg School of Management, we pride ourselves on our students being resilient and "gritty" even.

This winter has certainly put the faculty, students, and staff to the test.

For example, is reporting that: Temperatures dropped to -19º at the Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee Saturday morning. This broke the previous record low of -6º set back in 1950. To put this cold in perspective, -19º is the coldest low we’ve ever had in the lower Pioneer Valley in February.

This February,  we have had 2 cancellations of classes at UMass Amherst on a Monday (I teach Mondays) due to big snowfalls, and  a burst pipe that flooded our Isenberg School atrium and a computer lab below. I am not even acknowledging the later start times because the parking lots and roads and walkways needed clearing.

Because of the frigid weather and snowstorms, I have also had to reschedule 2 guest speakers in my Humanitarian Logistics class and I so much appreciate the speakers' flexibility! The most recent speaker had to deal not only with a loss of communications (computer and phone) in his healthcare organization but also with a flood in one of the principal rooms because of a burst sprinkler pipe! He told me that he will have many stories to share with my students later this week.

And, yesterday, I heard from one of my former doctoral students, who is now an Assistant Professor and lives in eastern MA. In the middle of the night last weekend (after Valentine's Day) his living room and basement were flooded when the sprinkler went off. He and his wife and young child now have to relocate to a hotel for a month so that the walls in the flooded rooms can be torn down and replaced because of all the water damage.

Somehow in western MA, our mobility, despite the horrid February, has not been drastically affected. (I will not share with you the multiple schedules that had to be updated for prospective faculty interview candidates because of flight cancellations. The search is now over and our offer has been accepted so we will have a great new colleague in the Fall).

The situation is even worse in Boston and Cambridge in eastern MA!  The winter of 2015 with 7 feet of snow already having fallen in eastern MA (and topping records in Buffalo)  has had a tremendous negative effect on public transportation with suffering commuters having to contend with complete shutdowns of the MBTA for days on end, major delays, and with serious disruptions to businesses and individuals. Police even had to transport certain healthcare professionals to work!

I was contacted by a journalist last week to offer suggestions on how to remove the snow so offered ideas on the use of freight trains to transport the snow out to warmer climes and, posisbly, drier ones, as well.

Last week,  I was telling my students (we were discussing risk management and emergency preparedness) about  Jane Garvey, who used to live in Amherst and was head of the FAA during 9/11 and responsible for managing air traffic control that horrific day.  I had the great honor of receiving an award named after her, the Jane Garvey Transportation Leadership Award,  which I treasure. Last night, on the evening news, because of the MBTA issues this winter, Governor Charlie Baker (who has been contending with water leaks in his home as well), appointed a panel to review the MBTA and Jane Garvey is one of the seven members of the panel with the charge to find long-term solutions for the MBTA's financial and operational woes.

In today's Daily Hampshire Gazette, Jane Garvey is quoted as saying about the MBTA transit sytem:
" It's a system that is so critical to the economy and so critical to the state and the region. We all have I think an interest in seeing it run well." I completely agree with Garvey. (I wrote a post on her a while back.) I had the pleasure of meeting her at a dinner party hosted by a senior colleague of mine, Professor Joe Balintfy, who has since passed away. He was a neighbor of hers on Blue Hills Road in Amherst.

I have spent 3 years living in Cambridge - the first two when I was a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Transportation & Logistics at MIT (under a wonderful NSF Visiting Professorship for Women grant that I had received) and then a Visiting Scholar at the Sloan School at MIT. In 2005-2006, I was at the other institution in Cambridge, on my sabbatical, as a Science Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University. The MBTA Red Line was how I got around when I was not walking from place to place or taking a Peter Pan bus back to Amherst on some weekends and holidays. And now the Peter Pan busses, based in Springfield, are being used to shuttle commuters in eastern MA because of the MBTA transit fiasco!

And just to end on a positive note, yesterday, one of my colleagues and collaborators at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, Professor Jonas Floden, emailed me the photos below which he took close to his home on the island of Donso. Yes, there are spring flowers now in Sweden!

So, just hang in there - we will make it through this winter in Massachusetts!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sending my PhD Student to a Conference in Florida

It has been a very cold and snowy February in Massachusetts and New England.

The snow and freezing temperatures have resulted in many disruptions from our university being closed on 2 successive Mondays to roofs collapsing because of the snow and pipes bursting.

Last February, I had the pleasure of going to a conference in Florida and although it was for a very short time - 2 to 3 days only, just seeing the greenery and experiencing warmth and sunshine outdoors was restorative.

This year, I was hoping to get away for a short period of time to also break the monotony of the snowy landscape that has been the scenery for many weeks. However, since I teach two classes on Mondays I can't afford to go away.

Luckily, I had submitted a paper with one of my doctoral students, Dong "Michelle" Li, and she will be flying to Gainesville, Florida on Sunday to present our paper, Supply Chain Performance Assessment and Supplier and Component Importance Identification in a General Competitive Multitiered Supply Chain Network Model.

She will be speaking at  the World Congress on Global Optimization: WCGO 2015. and will be presenting our paper, bright and early, next Monday morning.

 The full conference program can be downloaded here.

I asked Michelle to bring back a lot of photos so at least we can enjoy Florida vicariously!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Networks: Energy, Cities and the Control of Complex Systems

Last May, I had the pleasure of speaking in warm and beautiful Erice, Sicily on Sustainable Supply Chain Networks for Sustainable Cities, as part of the Workshop on Energy, Cities, and Control of Complex Systems organized by Drs. Adilson Motter and Robert Schock.

The workshop was the 47th Session of the International Seminars on Planetary Emergencies Energy, Cities, and the Control of Complex Systems,

I posted some photos of the venue at the Ettore Majorana Scientific Centre, the workshop participants, and the sights (and even food)  along with some reflections on this blog.

Now, I am very pleased to share with you that, through the efforts of Dr. Schock and Dr. Motter, the report on the workshop findings is now posted. Also, all the presentations are also posted. Thanks to the organizers of this great workshop as well as to the Energy Permanent Monitoring Panel, which is part of the  World Federation of Scientists, for providing a homebase for our report and all the presentations.

A direct link to my presentation is here.

I guess the audience enjoyed my presentation (and I certainly did theirs) since I was invited to speak on the topic again in Berlin, Germany next month.

We are having discussions on a possible follow on workshop, which is certainly needed, so stayed tuned and stay warm! 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

University Emergency Management

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Jeff Hescock, the Director of Emergency Management and Business Continuity at UMass Amherst,  speak in my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class at the Isenberg School of Management.

Jeff has been at UMass Amherst since the Fall of 2013 and, previoously, had worked in a similar capacity at the UMass President's Office. He has also worked for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and in the private sector, so he was a perfect guest speaker and a great Professor for a Day!

We had to do some disruption management, since his talk was originally scheduled for this past Monday, which coincided with the second major snowstorm and with the university closing, again. I had seen the forecast last week and Mr. Hescock was able to reschedule - thank you very much!

Mr. Hescock made the importance of emergency management, especially in a university setting, come alive. He has graciously allowed us to post his lecture slides, which you can download here. 

He spoke about the Clery Act, the massacre at Virgina Tech in 2007 in which 32 people lost their lives, and how these impacted colleges and universities,  UMass Amherst is, in a sense, its own "city," and the legislature considers it as such. With 28,000 students, there are always challenges and, hence, emergency preparedness is so important!

Mr. Hescock discussed the vision of UMass Amherst as a Disaster Resilient University, which I liked very much, and spoke about the risk, business continuity, and emergency operations campus structure, the roles of the UMass Amherst Emergency Support Functions (ESP), plus his role after the Boston Marathon bombings and the emergency response at UMass Dartmouth when you worked at
the UMass President's Office.  He spoke how the UMass Dartmouth campus was evacuated and the Dartmouth High School was a staging area to reunite those evacuated with families and friends.

He did a great job reinforcing what the students have learned so far in this course about the important phases of emergency management and how these affect our university and community! We
were so impressed by his emphasis also on business continuity and the criticality of academics, research, and reputation! He also shared with us many personal experiences, such as the consulting project he had after a company's toilet overflowed overnight damaging all the paper records and computers! He also spoke about the gas leak close to campus last summer, which I remember well, and also of how well the students handled themselves after the Patriots' win of the Super Bowl recently.

Mr. Hescock  emphasized the importance of public information dissemination and appropriate media attention to events (before, during,  and post). 

Of course, the students also appreciated hearing about who decides whether to call it a snowday and cancel classes - Mr. Hescock gets the phone call at 4AM to start the discussions with info from the National Weather Service, the  Physical Plant folks, etc. and the text alerts are sent out shortly after 5AM.  He spoke about most always being close to their phones for text message receipts and may not check emails as regularly. He also spoke about the UMass Amherst homepage being updated in case of closings and other important information.

The workers did a great job cleaning the parking roads and walkways after the last snowstorm and Hescock noted that some of them actually "shelter in place" and sleep on campus.

Very impressive is how the organization and vice chancellors, in charge, meet regularly to identify lessons learned," post events - whether natural or man-made ones.

Everyone who was at Mr. Hescock's guest lecture today benefited from your exceptional expertise and practical know-how and your willingness to answer the students' numerous questions. We are very lucky to have him at UMass.