How Encompass Group stepped up to fill a need during the COVID-19 crisis
As the cases of COVID-19 spiked across the United States, John Wood and the team at Encompass Group were like a lot of companies – they wanted to help in any way they could. Fortunately, as a leading manufacturer and marketer of textiles, apparel, therapeutic support services, and single-use medical products, they had the ability to do just that.
“A friend at Vizient and I were talking and I told him, ‘It might be a crazy idea, but Encompass has a 510(K), and in the past had been a manufacturer of PPE,” Wood, CEO of Encompass Group, recounted in a recent podcast with John Pritchard, publisher of The Journal of Healthcare Contracting. “We could set that up again domestically or in this hemisphere if the need arose.”
Within three days, Encompass Group began the process to start suppling PPE. “But we did have a few challenges that we needed to face.”
Wood spoke about those challenges, and other ways in which the organization is helping America’s frontline caregivers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, during the podcast.
The PPE process
The first step toward producing the PPE supplies involved validating with the FDA that the changes Encompass would make were going to be acceptable. The FDA had set up a portal where people could start applying to manufacture this type of product domestically, “but there was quite a backlog there,” said Wood.
Wood had a conversation with another business partner, Jockey International. Wood told the COO about what Encompass was doing and two days later he had used some of their connections to get in touch with the task force led by Vice President Mike Pence. Just like that, “we were on the phone with the FDA,” Wood said. “We described what we were doing and we were approved within an hour.”
Within four weeks, Encompass went from idea, to procuring the necessary equipment and raw materials, to producing and shipping PPE.
On April 8, as the first of many efforts to respond to the national emergency to combat COVID-19, Encompass Group announced a direct corporate donation through SHARE, a national call-to-action program established by the Society of Nurse Scientists Innovators Entrepreneurs & Leaders (SONSIEL) in partnership with the GLO Good Foundation. The Encompass Group SHARE donation was part of tens of thousands of pieces of protective gear conveyed from private and corporate donors to hospital healthcare staff in over a dozen hard-hit states.
ABC News Nightline featured SHARE program activity with SONSIEL President & Co-Founder Rebecca C. Love and GLO Good Foundation Co-Founder Dr. Jonathan B. Levine. The episode featured footage including jackets being packed and shipped out by Encompass Group.
Encompass Group was also the source of 10,000 scrub units being donated by Jockey International to the healthcare staff at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.
“I think we’ve all seen on the news where healthcare workers were coming home and changing in their garage because they don’t want to bring things into their home,” said Wood. “They are having to do laundry every other night so they can keep up with the workload. For them to have at least one more set of scrubs, hopefully that helps a little bit in the things that they’re facing.”
With the challenge before the U.S. healthcare sector, Wood said the team at Encompass Group feels fortunate to be able to continue to work and contribute to meeting the needs of America’s healthcare workers. Indeed, in healthcare, the line between partners and competitors had become blurry on a normal day. The current crisis has only enhanced collaboration among industry stakeholders. “Everybody’s working together,” said Wood. “It’s been a positive thing to see how everybody’s pulling together to come up with a solution.”
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Sponsored: Encompass Group