Coronavirus News: Behind the scenes at Northwell Health's massive storage, distribution center

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Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Behind the scenes at Northwell's massive storage, distribution center
Stacey Sager has a behind-the-scenes look at Northwell Health's massive storage distribution center and how they are preparing to vaccinate millions in the Tri-State.

BETHPAGE, Long Island (WABC) -- Northwell Health, New York's largest healthcare provider, gave Eyewitness News a behind-the-scenes look at how they're preparing for the massive task of vaccinating New York City, Long Island and Westchester County for COVID-19.

It's a complicated chain, with many supplies and workers leading to the end product of a patient receiving a shot.

At the complex in Bethpage, you can feel the hustle and bustle, kind of like Santa's Workshop for PPE.

ALSO READ | New York City critical care nurse given first COVID vaccine in the US

Welcome to what's called the IDC -- the integrated distribution center -- for the entire Northwell Health system located in a massive warehouse where endless stacks of boxes hold everything from bedpans to N-95 masks to the millions of syringes that will soon be needed to administer the coronavirus vaccine.

And right now, they've stockpiled more than four times the syringes needed to give out seasonal flu shots.

"Throughout the whole pandemic, we've never run out of a product," IDC manager Paul Spodek said. "That's what keeps me up at night."

Northwell won't store the actual vaccine there, just everything else that's needed for it. Instead, the vaccine will be stored in ultra-cold freezers now set up at 19 different Northwell hospitals.

Still, they know the initial batch won't cover all their health care workers. So to determine who gets the shot, they'll use an algorithm.

"We look at what positions they have, what type of contact do they have with patients, and what is their age," Northwell Chief Pharmacy Officer Onisis Stefas said.

Meanwhile, the supplies will keep shipping out 24 hours a day to 23 different Northwell hospitals from Staten Island to Long Island to Westchester.

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Derick Waller has more on 20 Northwell Health employees who lent their voices to a moving short film.

The facility is a little over 85,000 square feet, so it affords Northwell the ability to keep stockpiling vaccine supplies without running out of space.

"You're trying to help humanity in general," distribution associate Andre Manifold said.

It's importance is not lost on those preparing the packages.

"Just making sure that we can put as much smiles on families faces as possible," distribution associate Devon Thompson said.

They are deliveries that will save lives after months of suffering.

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