As the saying goes – when it rains, it pours. That’s especially true in the case of Jay Wang, of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command’s Army Medical Materiel Development Activity. The way Wang tells it, he found out he was the winner of the USAMRDC Employee of the Quarter award via no less than 70 emails from friends and coworkers.
“I've been overwhelmed by the response and well wishes,” says Wang, who’s been with USAMRDC since 2016 and who currently serves as a product manager for USAMMDA’s Warfighter Health, Performance, and Evacuation Project Management Office. “It’s an honor to be a part of MRDC, and it’s an honor to represent MRDC.”
No doubt it was Wang’s work over the past few months as part of USAMRDC’s Joint Acquisition Task Force that earned him the award. Established by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, JTAF was designed to support the acquisition and execution of the U.S. Department of Defense’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic via interagency support to any number of external federal organizations. Named as one of seven key product managers under JATF, Wang for months worked with dozens of corporate entities to gauge their ability to make much-needed dialysis fluids in the U.S. Given that, according to Wang, upwards of 20 percent of all patients put on a ventilator require dialysis – and indeed, ventilator use was a key factor in the early days of the U.S. response to COVID-19 – he needed to secure millions of liters of said fluid per month, while also accounting for storage and delivery issues.
For Wang, the key was – and still is – focusing on the immediate concern while, at the same time, planning for the future.
“If you’re doing this in May and June, [then] you’re planning beyond May and June,” he says. “In other words, we were always trying to get ahead of this.”
Based on Wang’s recommendations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is now funding a Vendor Managed Inventory of dialysis fluids that will be stockpiled – and subsequently released as needed – to support medical providers at COVID-19 hotspots in the U.S. As far as numbers go, Wang awarded 50 million dollars in contracts related to dialysis fluid production and storage, and 150 million dollars in contracts for pharmaceuticals related to the pandemic (for drugs such as painkillers and those related to continued ventilator use).
"While Jay is a driven acquisition professional focused on providing state-of-the-art medical solutions for the Soldier, he volunteered to work many long days to support the Nation with his expertise as a member of two Joint Acquisition Task Forces,” says Steven Hawbecker, a project manager at the WHPE PMO and the person who nominated Jay for the award. “His actions are a true testament of the American character in a time of crisis."
For his efforts, Wang – and all USAMRDC Employee of the Quarter award winners – will receive the Civilian Service Achievement Medal, a USAMRDC Commander's Coin, a Time Off Award of 20 hours and a photo on the wall at USAMRDC headquarters.
Still, Wang is quick to point out he sees the award as more of a team-oriented victory than an individual one. In particular, he cites the nine contractors on his staff as the keys to his success. After all, it was that collective group that joined forces to carry his usual workload during the months he spent with JTAF – performing, essentially, all of his daily duties and tasks for weeks on end. Without them, says Wang, his award simply wouldn’t be possible.
“If they weren’t really capable, then I wouldn’t have been able to pivot to this assignment,” says Wang of his team. “That team deserves all the world of credit.”
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