Medical equipment. Office supplies. Linens. All of these items are used daily by staff throughout the hospital – but how do these materials actually get to Mass General’s main campus and offsite locations, inpatient units and operating rooms?

It all starts in the lower level of the Lunder Building. Around 6 am, a small but mighty team of three – led by Kevin Mack, loading dock coordinator – arrives at the Charles Street loading dock and prepares to receive deliveries from vendors such as FedEx, United Parcel Service (UPS), Century Linen and Medline Industries. Semitrucks skillfully back in to one of the dock’s four bays, where Mack’s team is stationed to unload, scan and sort each package.

“On an average day, we receive close to 1,200 packages and more than 70 truck deliveries,” Mack says. “It’s our job to ensure each package makes it off the truck and into our receiving room safely.”

Opened in 2011, the Lunder dock is the largest – and busiest – of Mass General’s three receiving areas. Others are located at the Yawkey and Jackson Buildings. The Jackson Building dock was the hospital’s first loading dock and is still operational with two bays available for delivery trucks. When the Phillip and Susan Ragon Building opens in 2028, it will include its own receiving area along Cambridge Street, making deliveries to the Mass General Cancer Center and the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center more convenient.

While Mack’s team operates with a consistent, steady workflow, each day presents new logistical challenges. A late truck, a car parked in the wrong zone, or an unexpected delivery can throw off an entire day’s work.

“A large part of my role includes scheduling deliveries with our vendors,” says Mack. “If a truck arrives unannounced with a large delivery, I do my best to fit them in – it’s almost like air traffic control with so many different vehicles coming in and out of the receiving bays.”

Mack is often able to send those unexpected deliveries to other loading docks if the Lunder bays are full. Other times, though, he is forced to ask drivers to come back later.

“It is important for MGH staff to schedule any deliveries with our team,” Mack says. “That way, we can get packages distributed throughout the hospital as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Weather often comes into play for the team – deliveries do not stop for heatwaves or snow.

“Since we work in these open-air bays, temperatures can get pretty extreme on both ends of the spectrum,” says Jim Burns, operations manager, MGH Receiving and Mail Services. “We work closely with Buildings and Grounds to regulate the work environment as much as possible, but we all know how unpredictable weather in New England can be.”

Because their job is so physically and mentally demanding, it’s important for the loading dock team to find time throughout the day to reset. Whether that means enjoying lunch together, taking a walk around the hospital or spending a few minutes in Mack’s office, they look out for each other.

“Every day, I’m amazed by and proud of how hard this team works,” says Burns. “Their job isn’t easy. It changes by the minute, but they work together to get it done. We really couldn’t ask for a better team.”