When COVID-19 cases began surging, the nation faced an immediate shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Locally, District healthcare workers had to care for coronavirus patients with scant supplies of protective gear, risking exposure to the virus as they treated it. But one local consulting firm has helped people in the District and across the country access PPE, even in the pandemic’s early days.
Soul Tree (www.soultreeconsulting.com) – a DC consulting firm focused on assisting government agencies, corporate customers and schools – has helped to keep people safe during the pandemic, thanks to years spent developing relationships with retailers and agencies across the DMV, according to president and CEO Marni Barron.
Originally focused on education consulting, Soul Tree has expanded its scope since its founding in 2011. It has partnered with Aetna, which insures DC government employees, and AmeriHealth, which connects residents to Medicaid.
Soul Tree has also developed an enduring connection with NOVA Retail, a Virginia-based promotional marketing and event company that provides custom-branded products. To produce its custom products, the retail company had worked for 11 years with manufacturing plants in China. When those plants began producing COVID-19 PPE, NOVA Retail decided to shift its focus.
That shift prompted NOVA Retail to call Barron in March. Around then, the retailer developed a subsidiary called Patriot Safety Company (www.patriotsafetycompany.com), sensing that its events-focused business wouldn’t be feasible during the pandemic. Patriot Safety Company employees asked Barron, whose array of clients has grown over the years, a simple question: “Do you have anyone you know who would want to buy PPE?”
Barron’s response was straightforward: “The whole world.”
Supplying Locally and Nationally
Barron had contacts eager to purchase the masks, sanitizers and face shields Patriot Safety Company was beginning to distribute. But facilitating sales to government entities and healthcare companies required going through some technical hoops, she said.
As she navigated this process, cases began to rise as PPE dwindled. “My heart would break,” she said. “I would watch the news and see places like New York City, which was one of the first that couldn’t get the supplies, and we’re sitting here with a warehouse filled with them in Northern Virginia.”
Soon, though, she managed to fulfill legal requirements, first connecting with local contacts and then healthcare companies. Due to longstanding relationships with the Chinese manufacturing plants and an existing delivery process, NOVA Retail did not experience supply delays. Thanks to that, Barron’s expertise and Soul Tree’s expansive clientele, Patriot Safety Company was able to provide lifesaving equipment to healthcare professionals, including Aetna employees.
The company has even distributed Aetna-branded PPE kits throughout the country, including back-to-school “backpack kits” stocked with child-size masks, mini-sanitizers and alcohol wipes. As distribution expanded beyond the DC area, Barron began connecting with more customers: universities, school systems, medical suppliers, hospitals, government institutions and individuals.
With the help of Soul Tree, Patriot Safety Company has sold over 1.5 million PPE units since mid-March.
From Goggles to Gowns
When it comes to COVID-19 preparedness, Patriot Safety Company has many offerings. Products that ship the day of purchase include K95 masks, surgical masks, children’s masks and cloth masks. Beyond face coverings, the company stocks sanitizers and wipes, face shields and goggles, thermometers and gowns.
Patriot Safety Company says it sources “only the best possible materials from ethical, reputable and trusted sources.” Most products come in packs. A bundle of 100 three-ply medical masks costs $75.
Heather Ness is one customer who purchased supplies from Patriot Safety Company and she calls Barron a lifesaver. The hand sanitizer, K95 masks and child-sized masks she received were “packed perfectly and pristine,” she said.
Not only did Barron help Ness find PPE, including a comfortable mask for her son, she has also helped connect people across the DMV to supplies, Ness added. “They did a wonderful job with the way they set up the company. Their ability to help the city was huge.”
Patriot Safety Company also provides COVID-19 resources, including an overview of Virginia’s face-covering mandate, an infographic depicting how to properly wear a mask and a short article comparing cloth and medical-grade masks.
Barron said Soul Tree’s respect and connections in the DC-area have enabled Patriot Safety Company’s widespread sales. “Within our local areas,” Barron said, “that’s where we’ve got the relationships.”
Shop Patriot Safety Company’s products at www.patriotsafetycompany.com. Visit Soul Tree’s website at www.soultreeconsulting.com.
Eva Herscowitz is a journalism student at Northwestern University, where she writes for the student newspaper. She spent Summer 2020 interning with the Hill Rag. You can reach her at [email protected].