Director of strategic sourcing | Trinity Health
JHC: What is the most interesting/challenging project you’ve worked on recently?
Jennifer Chenard: The most interesting and challenging project I have worked on recently is most likely not much different than other health care organizations – to locally source PPE during the pandemic. I was tasked with finding local and U.S.-based sources for masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and face shields; And we needed quick turn-around times.
Understanding the specifications for the products we needed from my manufacturing background, I was able to quickly reach out to local sewers to make cotton masks. I made a phone call to Detroit Sewn, and luckily, the owner called back the very next morning. We met at Detroit Sewn with a sample, reviewed specs online, and the owner was quickly able to manufacture prototypes.
We were able to gain clinical use approval, and from there, they began manufacturing. We now not only have masks, but reusable gowns as well.
For disinfecting wipes, we were able to call on PAK Technologies to supply Trinity Health when were in need. PAK technologies is a U.S.-based manufacturer for disinfectants. They came to our rescue by answering our call and supplying wipes on a monthly basis.
Vaughn Hockey out of Oxford, Michigan began manufacturing reusable gowns based upon samples we were able to provide.
And last, but not least, we partnered with Technique, Inc. from Jackson, Michigan, for reusable face shields.
JHC: What projects are you looking forward to in the next six to 12 months?
Chenard: I am looking forward to continuing to support local manufacturing and U.S.-based manufacturers as we find new and creative ways to serve our health care systems.
JHC: What is the biggest challenge/change facing health care supply chain professionals in the next 5 years?
Chenard: I believe the biggest challenge facing health care supply chain professionals in the next 5 years is business continuity.
We need to build resilient relationships with our suppliers and push to have an understanding of the supplier’s business continuity and redundancy plans. Manufacturers ask this of their raw material suppliers, therefore in health care supply chains, we need to ask the same of our supply partners. With this information, we can then make more informed decisions related to supplies, continuity and in the long run, it will ensure that if a pandemic or a supply disruption occurs, we can still continue to take care of our patients and we can help other hospitals do the same instead of fighting over the same supply base.
JHC: Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?
Chenard: I continue to look for inspiration from those that foster a collaborative approach; those that have a purpose-driven outlook for the greater good.
I look to mentors that know taking a risk and supporting it is the best motivator.
I look to those who have been in the health care industry long enough to know that change is needed to continue to lower the cost because we need to keep the doors open so that we can take care of all people.
JHC: How do you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
Chenard: I believe staying grounded in my purpose allows me to continue to grow as a leader.
Being a leader is not about “I” or “ME”, it is about what impact can be made to those on my team, those around me, and the community. If I’m able to keep that purpose in the forefront, I believe that I will able to help others grow into leaders.
As a leader, it’s about growing others and giving them the opportunity to do what they thrive on, not to fall into a mold that was preset.