Warren Buffett, Goldman Sachs partner fly in 130K masks for Mount Sinai
Using private corporate jets, the Big Apple’s Mount Sinai Health System flew in 130,000 N95 coronavirus-protecting masks from China – with the help of a senior partner at Goldman Sachs and a call to Warren Buffet, according to a report.
The well-connected hospital network pulled out all the stops to secure the highly sought respirator masks — which have been in short supply during the pandemic, from Nanjing, China, with the assistance of Goldman Sach’s Rich Friedman, a hospital co-chairman, according to Business Insider.
Mount Sinai officials cultivated a relationship with their counterparts at the Taikang Xianlin Drum Hospital in Nanjing several years ago, Dr. Szabi Dorotovics, president of a Mount Sinai consulting arm, told the news outlet.
In January, Mount Sinai sent the Chinese hospital supplies to help it in its fight against the coronavirus, which emerged in the city of Wuhan, some 375 miles away.
Last month, the hospital looked to return the favor, Dorotovics told Business Insider, and used its access to a Chinese supply chain that was unavailable to many international companies.
“We’re long-term partners,” he said. “We never thought these partnerships would help us secure supplies.”
The Chinese ultimately bought 500,000 N95 respirator masks and 1.2 million surgical masks for Sinai – but the delivery hit a snag on March 23 because there was no way to get them out of the country because of the restrictions on international travel.
“We were stuck,” Dorotovics said.
But the hospital network had an ace in the hole.
Goldman Sachs’ Friedman was speaking to Sinai’s CEO Ken Davis that day and learned about the problem getting the much-needed supplied to the US.
Friedman recalled similar travel difficulties after 9/11 when he and Goldman’s former CEO Hank Paulson returned to the US from Japan on a chartered plane from NetJets.
“When we realized that the shortage was really going to hit us, it dawned on me that we needed to go get this stuff,” Friedman told Business Insider.
He asked Goldman CEO David Solomon to call Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway owns the private jet company. Minutes later, Friedman was on the phone with NetJets Chairman Adam Johnson, who scrambled the aircraft for the mission.
After securing the necessary approval and overcoming some stumbling blocks, the jets took off from Alaska and arrived in Nanjing, where the masks were loaded – though only 130,000 of them could fit – while Friedman coordinated the effort from his vacation home in Bridgehampton, NY.
The jets arrived at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, where the masks were unloaded and trucked to Mount Sinai’s facilities in the city.
Later this week, another shipment – using a New York cargo shipping company — is scheduled to include the remaining N95 masks and 1.2 million surgical masks.
Dr. Vicki LoPachin, Mount Sinai’s chief medical officer, wrote in an email to staff last week that the 130,000 masks had roughly doubled the network’s supply.
“The tide on PPE is turning,” LoPachin wrote, referring to personal protection equipment. “Thanks to the relentless work of so many of your colleagues and others, our supply lines are opening up, and help is on the way.”
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