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Athletic trainer steps into supply chain role to help deliver medical supplies during pandemic

Matthew Fortune said he had to formulate a backup plan after the coronavirus put him out of work. Now, he's making sure Novant Health medical staff get their PPE.

FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — When the coronavirus pandemic rocked the United States, Clinical Athletic Trainer Matthew Fortune said initially, he didn't think his job would be in jeopardy. 

"Initially I was pretty naïve," said Fortune, "I was thinking, 'Oh, you know, I’m in healthcare, I'm in rehab, I’m safe. It’s not going to affect me,' and I think a lot of healthcare workers were in that same boat."

Fortune said as more information about the coronavirus came out, his role as a clinical athletic trainer fell into the category that could no longer operate. 

At the end of March, Fortune stopped working at Novant Health Sports Performance and Rehab, but it would be just one day later he got right back to work again. 

"Novant had a protocol in place prior to that saying that if you were displaced from your current job, you could apply," said Fortune, "Fill out this form and they’ll find another location based on your skillset and the needs that they had."

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After making a few calls and filling out some paperwork, he heard the supply chain that helps get medical supplies out to doctors and nurses at Forsyth Medical Center needed help. 

He started the next day.

"Really it’s that backline that is supporting the frontline and helping people do their job and do it safely," said Fortune. 

Fortune spends his days at the supply chain sorting through shipments of masks, gowns, and other personal protective equipment and supplies for the medical staff at the hospital.

He keeps track of stock and delivers it to different units, making sure it all gets to the right place. 

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"You have to do it right every time, every day, and really focus on where we’re delivering those things and also be quick with it to make sure it’s getting there by the time it needs to be there," said Fortune. 

Angie Henderson is the supply chain manager at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center. 

She said the extra help they've received from Fortune and others has been crucial.

"Quickly, we were able to get Matt and some of his teammates in here to help us," said Henderson.

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Henderson said the hospital is fully prepared with supplies they need to get through the pandemic. 

"Our supply chain is operating 24/7, which is new to us, but we’re handling it well and we’re here to take care of any and all things for our patients and our nurses and doctors," said Henderson.

Fortune will stay in his role as a supply chain coordinator for the foreseeable future, but he's looking forward to helping in any way he can.

"With supply chain, I really see them as the lifeblood of the hospital. Their job is to make sure that supplies are pumping out at an appropriate pace and getting to the right location so that way everyone else can work," said Fortune. 

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