5 Questions with COVID Researchers: Cassandra Thiel, New York University

This post is part of the series 5 Questions with COVID Researchers. Hear from researchers across the Northeast United States about how they are working to mitigate the widespread impacts of COVID-19, and learn about opportunities for cross-disciplinary and cross-sector collaboration that could enable further progress in the fight against the pandemic. To learn more about COVID-related research, keep updated with virtual events and funding opportunities, and access other resources including datasets and guides, visit the COVID Information Commons. If you would like to be featured in this series, please email Katie Naum and Helen Yang.

Guest post by Dr. Cassandra Thiel, Assistant Professor, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, and Principal Investigator on NSF Award #2027927, “Variation in Resilience Under Shortages in the Medical Supply Chain.”

What is the problem you are trying to solve, and how will you and your team address it?

Dr. Kimia Ghobadi and I are analyzing what happened to hospital supply chains during COVID-19, particularly with respect to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We hope that by better understanding how hospitals shifted their PPE use and ordering practices, we can create better guidance for how to handle future supply disruptions (as climate change is expected to cause major disruptions in all supply chains).

What data are you working with? How will it be used?

We are working with hospitals’ purchasing records before and during COVID-19. These data that show when hospitals ordered PPE, how much they requested, who the vendors were, and when orders were fulfilled if ever. We are using these data to see changes in ordering practices as a result of COVID-19.

Is your team seeking collaborators, subject matter experts, or other resources that you’d like to put a call out for?

We could definitely use more hospital partners who are willing to share the above data. Right now most of our data is from the northeastern part of the US at large academic hospitals, but we want to analyze variability in approaches based on hospital type and location.

How does this work contribute to the fight against the pandemic?

Because the pandemic is ongoing, lessons learned from our hospital locations could still be utilized to prepare both hospitals and vendors and their supply chains for the PPE needs of medical facilities. We also hope our findings will help inform better policy and practice in the future to avoid the near-catastrophic shortages of supplies witnessed across the US during this pandemic.

Where can people learn more about your progress?

Our results will be published, and updates will likely be posted on Twitter (@CassandraLThiel, @KimiaGhobadi) and Instagram (@Clinically_Sustainable).

Cassandra Thiel is an Assistant Professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in the Department of Population Health, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and NYU Tandon School of Engineering in the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering.

Kimia Ghobadi is the John C. Malone Assistant Professor of Civil and Systems Engineering at Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering and a member of the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) and the Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare.