Smart Solutions

Harris Products Group Responds Rapidly During COVID-19 Crisis

The Harris Products Group redeployed employees to their Gainesville, Ga., facility to provide equipment needed for the 350-bed field hospital located in the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park.

Oxygen Regulators and Systems Provided Throughout the U.S.

Within weeks of the outbreak of the coronavirus, the Harris Products Group had produced and supplied thousands of medical regulators and hundreds of gas systems to distributors throughout the United States that were scrambling to meet critical needs.

In one case, a gas supplier, rushing to respond to the urgent need for oxygen delivery systems, turned to Harris for custom solutions for two New York City field hospitals. Working with the supplier, Harris designed, produced, and delivered systems with 78 panels and 1,170 regulators to serve the needs of 1,092 patient beds.

The supplier had received a call from a contractor who needed oxygen tanks for a planned alternative care facility—first estimated to accommodate 20 to 40 beds and then, two days later, as many as 120 beds. A week later, the contractor announced it would be installing a 350-bed field hospital in Queens in the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park and another field hospital at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal with 750 beds.

With the coronavirus exploding in the area, health care facilities everywhere needed oxygen. Because smaller oxygen tanks would not be available, the supplier contacted its bulk gas supplier and then developed a plan to pipe the oxygen throughout the buildings and regulate the pressure at each bed using flowmeters. Unfortunately, the medical regulator supplier could not provide regulators until June.

“COVID-19 has been a heartbreaking tragedy, but it is inspiring how our employees and partners are working together to overcome so many obstacles.”

—David Nangle, President, Harris Products Group

The supplier explained the situation to Harris Sales Representative Joe Prunty, who consulted the Harris technical support team, which provided another solution. Instead of regulating pressure at each bed with flowmeters, the technical team proposed accomplishing the task with a series of panels that would regulate the pressure near the oxygen source and then distribute it throughout the facility.

In response to an urgent need for oxygen for COVID-19 patients, the Harris Products Group quickly designed panels to regulate the pressure near the oxygen source, then distribute it throughout a New York City field hospital.

The supplier recognized that the alternative solution was ideal. It could pipe the oxygen supply right to the panels. Each panel would have 14 regulators that would provide oxygen to 14 beds. Harris quickly provided a CAD/CAM drawing of the design, which the contractor and the health care providers immediately approved.

Harris then focused on producing and delivering the systems. Time was of the utmost importance, and Harris formed a plan to ensure the project could move forward rapidly.

Harris Regional Manager David Sprague coordinated the effort with David Gailey and Tom Trame from Harris’ Specialty Gas Group. Employees were redeployed to work on the project at Harris’ Gainesville, GA, facility, where the Specialty Gas Group is based and medical-related equipment and systems are produced. They added production lines and called on supply chain partners to find and provide materials expeditiously.

The plant ran multiple shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The contractor assigned drivers to pick up systems daily, taking them directly to New York so that the plumbers could begin connecting them into the main lines as soon as they arrived.

The initial call from the contractor came in on a Thursday. By Friday the supplier had the gas delivery system approved, and products began arriving on Monday in Queens for installation. An independent third-party company tested the entire system after it was installed, and approvals for medical use were obtained on a Thursday night. The Tennis Center facility began accepting patients the next morning, eight days from the first call.

Harris’ ability to adapt as circumstances changed was impressive. At the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, a shortage of bulk gas trailers for the oxygen could have been a problem. However, Harris suggested using dewar tanks attached to a backup supply from high-pressure tanks. This solution allowed the supplier to provide the equipment and connect it with the panels and hoses and avoid delaying the start of the project.

Harris’ staff are proud of their role in providing a solution to meet the needs of those caring for COVID-19 patients. Harris has been tirelessly working with their other distributors to meet their business demands during this challenging time. They have delivered thousands of medical regulators and hundreds of medical gas systems for health care facilities battling the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has been a heartbreaking tragedy, but it is inspiring how our employees and partners are working together to overcome so many obstacles,” said Harris Products Group President David Nangle. “I am proud that Harris is using its knowledge and resources to design and deliver gas systems that are contributing so greatly to saving lives during this global crisis.”

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