Pharma volunteering during Covid-19 crisis (Guest blog)

It all started with one coffee and a sentence ... “I haven’t stopped working for days…

The author of the introduction quote is working at the Croatian Institute of Public Health (CIPH), the frontline health institution in Croatia fighting Covid-19. The other coffee participant was her friend, a Croatia-based innovative pharmaceutical company’s employee trying to find a way to help her colleagues in this worldwide battle.

The significance of timely and accurate information provided via national call center was never so obvious as in this flood of fake news and panic spread. As it was obvious that epidemiologists and other MDs working at CIPH are struggling to handle the pressure of drafting strategies against Covid-19, guidelines, testing patients and handling the enquires at the call center for citizens, the pharmaceutical professionals in Croatia felt an urge to jump in. Considering that pharmaceutical industry has the biggest pool of HCPs working outside the healthcare system, we recognized the opportunity to enable the MDs to focus on other priorities, instead of answering phone calls.
The initiative spread so fast, our Gx colleagues joined us, and as of Monday, March 23, there are 187 volunteers covering the call center with no risk attached, as everyone is connected via their mobile phones and they work from home, covering shifts from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

Our volunteers are answering hundreds of phone calls about corona symptoms, but also about contagion prevention, travel restrictions and even gas delivery! The citizens feedback is brilliant, but the feeling our volunteers got in return was priceless.

Here are some of the impressions.
"Digital friendships have been formed in WhatsApp groups among colleagues who have not known each other so far, they share experiences, emotions... Volunteers do not spare their efforts and call back citizens to give information, so they make sure that everyone will be taken care of. Who knows what this example will bring to the system in the coming times - some new knowledge, some improved business processes, more digitalization, more understanding between all of us, who are both users and participants and creators of this unique healthcare system."
"From the outset of this crisis, while the epidemic has not yet escalated in Croatia, as a company and as a local team, we have had a consensus on priorities - protecting our employees and our patients, as well as contributing to the community and the needs of society. We put these three goals at the heart of our activities for as long as this situation lasts, knowing that it is the best contribution that professionals that we hire can give. The most important thing is to preserve health and keep solidarity and care for others. Therefore, I am especially proud of our employees who volunteer in their spare time, not only in the call center but in many other ways. This time requires not only our expertise but also our compassion for those who need help. I am happy to lead a team that, both collectively and at individual level, can and wants to provide support both to citizens and the system."