Following news of yet another potential surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the subvariant of Omicron, many people are facing an uncomfortable feeling: anger.
Allan Offley’s work as loading dock coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital might be compared to that of an air traffic controller. But instead of planes, Offley is dealing with trucks—and the scores of items that land each day on the Materials Management loading docks.
“Allan does his job with a sense of calm and a constant smile,” says Gary Mulrey, senior manager for Mass General's Receiving and Distribution. That demeanor on the docks is needed now more than ever, as the hospital takes in thousands of items designed to combat COVID-19, on top of the typical supplies delivered each day.
“One tractor trailer can show up with dozens of boxes on pallets and suddenly all of your space is gone,” says Mulrey. Add in apprehension from truck drivers who need to don masks and gloves to come inside, the urgency around getting testing kits and protective equipment to staff on COVID-19 floors, plus piles of new paperwork and you have one stressful situation, says Mulrey.
Offley puts it more simply. “I just like to know that I’m helping the cause,” he says. “We all have roles to play in this and we just step up and get it done every day.”
The “we” sometimes is a total of four people—Offley and three other loading dock staff members, with extra help at times from the Interior Receiving Department.
Still, Offley says, it makes him smile to think of all those who have donated supplies and goods to support the hospital and its staff since the start of the pandemic. “Before we had set up the channels to coordinate donations, we had groups and individuals showing up all the time with a desire to help.”
It has been a logistically and physically challenging time, says Offley. “On most days I look at my phone and I’ve taken more than 30,000 steps,” he says. “The days are long, but I’m proud of the work we do here.”
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