Henry Ford joins partnership to increase domestic sources of medical supplies, protect patients, employees, community

May 26, 2020
Premier Inc's investment program with Henry Ford Health System and 14 other hospitals and health systems seeks to ensure safe future supplies of PPE, other medical supplies

DETROIT - With the goal of ensuring a robust and resilient supply chain and preventing future medical supply shortages such as PPE, Henry Ford Health System has partnered with healthcare improvement company, Premier Inc. and 14 other hospitals in a new program to invest in domestic and geographically diverse manufacturers of medical supplies.


The program is intended to provide a means for members to support innovative business models, including partnering with high-quality manufacturers that can supply products known to be in short supply, or anticipated to be in short supply.


That includes personal protective equipment, or PPE, which has become a household phrase and concern as healthcare providers fought to keep up with demands for the critical protective gear as cases of COVID-19 patients surged. PPE will remain in high demand as safety measures take effect across the healthcare community moving forward. At Henry Ford that means numerous new safety measures, including increased use of PPE for patients, visitors and employees, are in place.


The first partner in the equity investment project is Prestige Ameritech, the largest domestic manufacturer of face masks, including N95 respirators and surgical masks. The Texas-based designer and manufacturer makes disposable medical devices and automated machinery that produces them.


The 15 health system partners in the Premier investment program commit to purchase a portion of all masks used annually from Prestige Ameritech for up to six years, inclusive of a three-year renewal option. Prestige does 100 percent of its business with U.S. customers.


Future areas of investment for the partnership will focus on other medical commodities currently in shortage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Members can also co-fund the development of affordable products that address specific market needs and create strategic sourcing contracts to ensure a continuous supply flow.


Medical products critical to daily operations of health systems are predominantly sourced overseas. Approximately 80 percent of all PPE supplies specifically come from Southeast Asia. The risks of this over-reliance came into sharp focus during the build-up of the COVID-19 crisis as nations closed borders, preventing American access to supplies and triggering widespread shortages of PPE needed to protect healthcare workers and patients.


“The global pandemic revealed the need to address U.S. healthcare’s reliance on non-domestic suppliers, a reliance that complicated every health system’s response to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Wright L. Lassiter III, President and CEO of Henry Ford Health System. “It’s clear that as we move past the crisis, the demands for PPE supplies will remain high and our need to find alternative sources, particularly domestic, are necessary.


“We hope that our health system, our community, our country, the world will never again be exposed to the challenges and loss brought on by COVID-19, but we also have to act, to do whatever we can to be ready, to be in the best position possible to respond be it a pandemic or catastrophic event.”


Lassiter and Bob Riney, Henry Ford Health System’s President of Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer, are part of the Michigan Business Leaders Forum, which has added a new focus on increasing opportunities for Michigan manufacturers to support healthcare while also protecting jobs, if not, increasing jobs. Henry Ford looks forward to advancements in domestic supply chains and expresses gratitude to the many Michigan companies that shifted processes to keep strained supply chains filled as cases of COVID-19 patients surged.


“We are grateful to Michigan manufacturers who converted their capacity during the COVID-19 crisis and to those who may continue to dedicate capacity as we move forward,” Riney said. “The new relationships and quick pivots made by manufacturers in Michigan and elsewhere in the U.S. opened up possibilities of bringing manufacturing closer to home. This also presents an opportunity to address costs and other competitive analyses between sourcing locally versus globally.”


Robin Damschroder, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Henry Ford Health System, said it makes sense not only financially but ethically to ensure reliable supply sources.


“The crisis left us with many lessons and we are working to turn those lessons into improvements in healthcare,” Damschroder said. “Improvements include putting us in a position to build new and better supply chains and provide the best care possible as more patients return to even safer facilities with COVID-19 protections in place. The lessons also better prepare us in the event a second wave were to occur.”

Dan Reese, Prestige Ameritech co-founder and CEO, said the investment partnership’s long-term commitment “allows us to invest in increased production.”

“As COVID-19 proves, the United States is almost completely at the mercy of foreign nations for vital supplies,” Reese said. “We are ready, willing and able to surge our U.S.-based production and help alleviate the national PPE shortage.”

As more patients and visitors return to Henry Ford facilities, the Henry Ford Promise brings with it multiple, new safety measures, including a universal mask policy, greater use of hand sanitizers and other safety equipment and supplies for visitors and team members - all to enhance and ensure safety and decrease risks.

“Henry Ford Health System is an early leader, stepping up and putting their investment dollars to work in ways that will help protect communities, patients and healthcare workers from shortages of essential medical products,” said Premier President Michael J. Alkire.

Premier is a headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. and has built an alliance of 4,000-plus healthcare providers looking to provide better care and outcomes at a lower cost.

“While we clearly understand that we need global diversity and domestic sources for supplies, the United States has historically been a high-cost region for manufacturing. This program aims to alleviate some of this tension, supporting domestic or other manufacturers with capital and long-term contracts that will allow them to offer competitive price points,” Alkire said. “It’s truly a win-win strategy – one where we expect to get a broader array of quality products at a fair price, all while rebuilding domestic manufacturing and better insulating ourselves from risk and disruption.

“Henry Ford Health System is a true innovator...This agreement and the added domestic supply it enables would not be possible without Henry Ford’s commitment. It deserves recognition for leadership and for real work to bring supplies back home to America.”


Kim North Shine / [email protected] / 313-549-4995

Amanda Forster / [email protected]


About Henry Ford Health System

Under the leadership of President and CEO Wright L. Lassiter, III, Henry Ford Health System is a $6.5 billion integrated health system comprised of six hospitals, a health plan, and 250+ sites including medical centers, walk-in and urgent care clinics, pharmacy, eye care facilities and other healthcare retail.

 Established in 1915 by auto industry pioneer Henry Ford, the health system has 32,000 employees and remains home to the 1,900-member Henry Ford Medical Group, one of the nation’s oldest physician groups. An additional 2,200 physicians are also affiliated with the health system through the Henry Ford Physician Network.

Henry Ford is also one of the region’s major academic medical centers, receiving nearly $100 million in annual research funding and remaining Michigan’s fourth largest NIH-funded institution. Also an active participant in medical education and training, the health system has trained nearly 40% of physicians currently practicing in the state and also provides education and training for other health professionals including nurses, pharmacists, radiology and respiratory technicians.


About Premier, Inc.
Premier Inc. (NASDAQ: PINC) is a leading healthcare improvement company, uniting an alliance of more than 4,000 U.S. hospitals and health systems and approximately 175,000 other providers and organizations to transform healthcare. With integrated data and analytics, collaboratives, supply chain solutions, and consulting and other services, Premier enables better care and outcomes at a lower cost. Premier plays a critical role in the rapidly evolving healthcare industry, collaborating with members to co-develop long-term innovations that reinvent and improve the way care is delivered to patients nationwide. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Premier is passionate about transforming American healthcare. Named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies® 13 years in a row, we are well-equipped to help health systems thrive.