COVID-19: Procurement of Medical Facilities and Services

As news of the novel coronavirus spread, “flattening the curve” became the rallying cry for social distancing efforts. The ‘curve’ in question refers to the rate of infection which can be slowed by social distancing, ultimately aiming to avoid overwhelming the healthcare industry. Countries that were unprepared for the virus, like Italy, had an enormous number of people infected all at once, without a health care structure prepared to support them. As communities across the world saw these reports, efforts to social distance became more serious, and governments have started to plan to assist with hospital capacity.

One way governments have started to prepare for the projected influx of patients is by constructing temporary hospital sites, either to specifically treat those with COVID-19 or to replace the beds in hospitals being occupied by those with the virus. In Canada, the province of Manitoba released a request for proposals (RFP) seeking a private partner to construct eight facilities to serve patients that need less immediate attention from doctors. This RFP does not only include the construction, but the chosen team must also provide the materials to make these facilities functioning hospitals. Los Angeles County has similarly issued solicitations for temporary hospital equipment, including dialysis and cardiology equipment, and personnel services, including doctors and nurses.

The spread of the virus has sped up government action and procurement processes. States, counties, and cities are approaching the virus and the gathering of supplies differently. We have covered emergency procurement procedures in a number of different Florida jurisdictions in this series. Proactive measures, like those demonstrated in Manitoba, provide a positive example for our local and state governments to follow in the coming weeks.