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The customer service unit of Materials Management at Massachusetts General Hospital is a unique blend of services—part air traffic control, part transit dispatch. For 15 years, Paula Barry has been in the center of it all, helping orchestrate the dozens of daily service requests.

Paula Barry
Mass General's Paula Barry

“Our job is to handle customer service requests for inpatient floors—namely making sure we get needed personal protective equipment to all areas where it is needed, while also dispatching patient transport throughout the hospital,” says Barry.

During the height of the spring COVID-19 surge, Barry found herself busier than ever. “During most of the pandemic, our staff was cut in half, and the volume of calls increased to record numbers,” she says. “To say it was fast-paced is an understatement and this nonstop activity meant I had to tell myself to always be mindful to step back for a moment, take deep breaths and regroup.”

Despite the record levels of calls, orders and transport requests, her team pulled together. “It has always amazed me how well our team always comes together in a crisis, be it weathering snowstorms, the Boston Marathon bombing, or, now, a pandemic,” Barry says. “When people hear about my job, their first response is ‘Thank you for all you do.’ This level of appreciation has in turn made me even more grateful for my family and friends, even if right now we can’t all be together. I am so grateful to be able to do my job with my colleagues every day. We all came through the surge healthy and strong as ever.”