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Starck reflects on pandemic

Starck reflects on pandemic

Dan StarckAs the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold in early 2020, Apria, like most other companies, had no idea what to expect, says CEO Dan Starck. 

“It’s been an interesting 17 months,” he said. “We’re still observing all things related to good practice, PPE, contactless delivery. We’re contemplating bringing people back at some point, but that’s the exception right now.” 

Starck spoke with HME News recently, reflecting on lessons learned and what he hopes to see in the future. 

HME News: Did having a national scale offer any advantages in dealing with the pandemic? 

Starck: We had some advantages, not just from our footprint, but we also have an internal logistics distribution platform. We fulfill products from our centers out to our branches. Within each distribution facility, we have repairs and we have transfilling, so we’re very much able to aggregate equipment and move it around the country quickly. In April and May, with New York surging, we could move concentrators there from different parts of the country. 

HME: Like many companies, Apria shifted to a work-from-home model. Will you stick with it? 

Starck: We probably had 10% to 12% working at home already and we will have a hybrid work model of some type. At the same time, we are cognizant that not everybody is equipped to work at home, nor does everyone want to. We will work through the process of coming back and making sure we have a safe and clean environment.  

HME: How have you maintained communication with employees? 

Starck: We have regular discussions to make sure we are up to snuff on any changes made to the guidance from the CDC or local health communities. We make it a point to have company-wide communication on anything we are doing. We continually communicate and we always start with keeping employees safe, followed by making sure we provide good service. 

HME: Do you think the industry showed policymakers and the general public the important role it plays in the health care continuum? 

Starck: The industry had a lot of pressure at the beginning, and yet it responded well, not just the big nationals, but the medium and the smaller providers – everybody responded. The industry really served as the pressure relief valve for hospitals. I’m quite hopeful that some of what we learned as an industry and through regulatory processes doesn’t all just swing back to pre-pandemic (ways of doing things). Especially from a regulatory standpoint, a lot has been done to make access easier.



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