Metro Supply Chain’s innovation mindset helps humanize hospital care

By Chris Fenton

Helping patients at Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) can be demanding, but Luca always has a cheery bedside manner. As the newest member of the caregiving team, Luca never hesitates when asked to stop and play games, do yoga, greet families or help cheer up patients when they feel scared. 

Standing only a few feet tall, with a toy-like appearance and oversized glowing eyes, Luca is an innovative, humanoid robot that’s been gliding around CHUM since 2022, thanks to support from Metro Supply Chain. The state-of-the-art robot is an innovative way to help make a patients feel less alone, which can significantly reduce their anxieties.

While Luca likes playing games, it’s far from a toy. The robot is equipped with facial recognition capabilities that it uses to read patients’ expressions so it can interpret their emotions and respond to fears and concerns accordingly. Luca helps bring smiles at a time that can be highly stressful, while taking some of the pressure off healthcare staff so they can focus more on patient care.

Luca was made possible thanks to a partnership between the CHUM Foundation and Metro Supply Chain. “Metro Supply Chain is truly a leader in terms of robotics and automation,” says Pascal Bouchard, President and CEO of the CHUM Foundation. “CHUM strives to become a leader in terms of innovation and breakthroughs, so it was only fitting to approach a partner that has the same vision in terms of the future.”

Here at Metro Supply Chain, giving back to the community is a core part of our values. This commitment can be traced back to the Nanji family, our founders, and their long history of community-oriented philanthropy, including notable donations to many organizations in healthcare and other sectors. Tech-powered innovation (including the kind of innovation that led to Luca) has been core to our business and culture for almost 50 years.

Success in supply chain management, like success in healthcare, requires relentless innovation. Metro Supply Chain is constantly looking for new ways to serve our clients better. This means embracing automation and leading-edge technologies to find better ways to design, build and run supply chain operations for our customers.

We are incredibly proud of how this mindset has contributed to the healthcare sector. Like all our clients, healthcare organizations continuously strive to find efficiencies in their operations. We consistently see the positive impact automating tasks can have for clients, which is why we were so excited by the opportunity to help bring Luca to CHUM.

We hope that this sophisticated but fun robot will complement the important work being done by healthcare workers, enabling them to devote more time to healing patients and saving lives. And just as we approach all innovations, we’ll eagerly watch the impact Luca has at CHUM to determine whether we should expand our funding to add more robots or find new ways to support the hospital’s patients in the future.

This approach is one of the reasons why Metro Supply Chain was selected by the government to warehouse and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gowns and gloves during the recent pandemic and improve the country’s readiness should we ever face another COVID-like event. The regulated sector isn’t new to us. We currently support customers in the nutraceutical space in addition to other regulated markets.

With almost a hundred sites in North America and Europe, our geographical reach enables us to move critical cargo efficiently to almost anywhere in the world. By supporting and improving the operations of healthcare organizations, we help these vital service providers do what they do best: help people live better, healthier lives.

Like Luca, here at Metro Supply Chain, we are always willing to find time to stop, answer questions and find solutions to our clients’ logistical challenges. And thanks to our special relationship with CHUM, we look forward to using our experience and sharing our success to help patients and their families in their time of need.