Bill Peacock has served as Chief of Operations at Cleveland Clinic since 2009. Under his guidance, Operations is tasked with ensuring every facility is designed and operating at optimal levels to address patient needs from the moment they step through our door to the moment they leave – this includes everything from supplies, functional operations, clinical equipment, food services, patient transportation, environmental services, parking services, safety and security, and more. With a wide umbrella of responsibility, it comes as no surprise that Peacock played a key role in the organization’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before joining Cleveland Clinic, Peacock served 24 years in the United States Navy, retiring as a Captain in the Civil Engineer Corps. He held two major commands: one in Japan, where he managed the facilities, construction, and real estate needs of Navy and Marine Corps forces across the Pacific Rim; the other, leading a battalion of naval construction force “Seabees” in several deployments to Pacific, Middle East, and Central and South American nations. His global naval experience primed his place at the forefront of Cleveland Clinic’s international growth – overseeing its growth strategy in the Middle East, Asian, European, and Central and South American markets.
Joining us for an episode of Health Amplified, Peacock discussed the following with Drs. Morris and Saklecha:
- His international role; its importance in keeping the pulse on COVID-19 and soliciting firsthand advice as the virus crept toward US locations
- His military knack for preparedness and its intersection with national ventilator and PPE concerns
- Looking beyond the normal limits of Supply Chain for alternatives to fight resource shortages
- The overhaul and rebuild of the enterprise’s traditional logistic systems
- His pride in, and credit to, the Infectious Disease Department and Lerner Research Institute at Cleveland Clinic
to listen to the episode now, or read on for a short edited excerpt. Check out more Health Amplified episodes at clevelandclinic.org/podcast/health-amplified
or wherever you get your podcasts.
Will Morris, MD:
This is the year that truly pressure tested an organization's ability to withstand unprecedented patient volumes, unprecedented caregiver pressures, and supply chain issues. Tell us a little bit about how you led through this change, and perhaps even tapping into your years in military service, and how that allowed you to think innovatively and guide in these dire times.
It's hard to pick where to start, but I guess if I take myself back to January/February time, watching the disease migrate its way across the globe, it became readily apparent that we were in for something. I don't think we quite knew what at the time, but one of my colleagues that sits next to me in the office is the Chief of Medical Operations, and I've always worked very closely with him with our disaster preparedness operations.
We thought early on that it was important to up a command centre and start tracking how the virus pattern was migrating. With the international hat that I wear, I was fortunate to have a view into what was happening with the virus in the Middle East with. We were able to see an earlier episode of this virus in Abu Dhabi. We were able to hear firsthand how ICU docs were completely overwhelmed in Italy. We were having conversations in the command centre with Italian intensivists who were trying to manage an incredible overflow of ventilated patients.
So we and our business analytics team were able to use that information to make projections and estimations of what kind of patient volumes we would see as early as the February and March timeframe. And the early numbers were quite alarming. We thought at one point that our Northeast Ohio market might be besieged with over 8,000 patients. We don't have that many beds in a market – we only have close to 4,000, and we were still trying to provide other cares. So questions like, ‘Do we need a surge capability?’ and ‘Do we need some ways to expand the number of available beds?’ arose. On the equipment side, we were concerned that we might not have enough ventilators; we were concerned we might not have enough PPE.
You asked me about my military experience – when this happened, it reminded me very much of how we in the military would prepare for chemical or biological warfare. How we used to drill, drill, drill, how we would don our protective gear, check each other, and present to each other that we were completely sealed and safe. As many of your listeners probably know, there were a lot of unknown unknowns about this virus in the spring of 2020. So we had to plan for the worst.