A South Shore Health manager spotted 30,000 counterfeit N95 masks after the company, which operates Weymouth’s South Shore Hospital, placed an order to replenish the hospital’s supply of personal protective equipment, officials said.
James “Barry” O’Shaughnessy, manager of procurement, value analysis, and contracting, who is responsible for ordering, inspecting, and keeping stock of South Shore Health’s supplies and equipment, uncovered the counterfeits in an order from a New Jersey company, according to a statement from South Shore Health spokeswoman Kristen Perfetuo. O’Shaughnessy, who has more than 25 years of experience in materials management, noticed something was off with the shipment even before opening the box.
“I just knew that something wasn’t right,” O’Shaughnessy said in the statement on Monday. “The labels on the boxes were placed differently than other shipments. And the plastic bag inside the boxes had a strange seal. My gut told me something was off.”
O’Shaughnessy had been eager to replenish South Shore Health’s supply of N95 masks, which have been difficult to acquire throughout the pandemic as reputable companies have had difficulty meeting the demand for the surgical-grade masks.
South Shore Health came to an agreement with the New Jersey company that the masks would not be paid for until the company received them. O’Shaughnessy enlisted a representative for 3M, the company responsible for manufacturing N95 masks, to help inspect the masks when they arrived. The New Jersey company is not an authorized 3M dealer, the statement said.
“While the masks looked exactly like a 3M N95, the packaging is what alerted me,” O’Shaughnessy said. “I sent 20-30 photos of the product to 3M and the representative confirmed my suspicion. The masks were counterfeit.”
The masks have been seized by the Department of Homeland Security, which is investigating the incident, according to the statement.
“Barry’s deep experience and keen attention to detail helped protect thousands of South Shore Health employees from wearing counterfeit masks that would put them at risk,” said Allen Smith, president and chief executive officer of South Shore Health. “We are grateful for his ‘watchful eyes’ and dedication to the safety of our colleagues.”