Inside Northwell Health's massive supply center

The Northwell Health Distribution Center in Bethpage is a giant medical supply warehouse. But it is more important than most, especially now as New York braces for a coronavirus surge.

"We pick, pack and ship medical supplies to all 23 Northwell hospitals," said Paul Spodek, a supply chain and logistics executive with the distribution center.

The center operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It has 104 employees, many of whom can't work from home because the hospitals — patients and staff alike — rely on them to receive everyday supplies.

"Just because we don't see the patient because we're in the warehouse, we've always got to put in our mind, 'patients come first,'" said Judy Peterson, an outbound supervisor at the center. "It's a napkin, slipper, urinal, bedpan — someone needs it."

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Close to 2,900 individual items are stored inside this 85,000-square-foot warehouse. It holds millions of plastic syringes that once filled with the COVID-19 vaccine can save someone's life.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the distribution center stocked anywhere from 20 to 30 days of supplies. But now with PPE and vaccination supplies in high demand, the center stocks 90 to 120 days' worth of supplies to avoid any shortages.