Stories from the frontline: MSD Denmark employees volunteer in the fight against COVID-19 (Guest blog)

Covid-19 has obliged many citizens from various walks of life to work additional hours or work differently in order to combat this new and invisible enemy. At MSD Denmark, many health professionals have chosen to volunteer to help cushion the impact of the virus.

In times of crisis, we adapt to new and different circumstances. Some keep their heads down and try to get on with life as best they can, while others insist on helping wherever they are needed. Not because they are heroes, but because helping is what drives them, as suggested by the experiences of Anette Fog, 53, and Monica Bendz, 31.

Monica is a trained pharmacist turned marketeer and has been with MSD for three years. Anette is a trained pharmacy assistant who has been working with HIV and Hepatitis C at MSD, also for three years. Both are volunteering their time and skills in the face of the pandemic.

Anette is a trained pharmacy assistant who has been working with HIV and Hepatitis C at MSD, also for three years. Both are volunteering their time and skills in the face of the pandemic. When Anette got the chance to volunteer, she did not think twice: “It makes me happy to contribute. And frankly, I didn’t care if they needed manual labour or brain power as long as I am making a difference,” she said.

Closed retirement home to protect the most vulnerable
Anette received a call from a nurse working at a temporary care facility for homeless people in Western Sealand. Covid-19 presents a considerable challenge to homeless people as they are more susceptible to complications following disease, placing them in the high-risk group.

“The challenge in this case was to keep potential Covid-19 patients out of the care home until their condition could be determined. Otherwise, there is a risk of the care home becoming a small coronavirus epicenter. And these people are at risk as it is,” said Anette, also pointing out that MSD Denmark has discovered a high prevalence of Hepatitis C in the exact same region.

Alongside other volunteers and employees Anette was tasked with the furnishing and establishment of a new reception center.
“The local municipality made an old retirement home available to us and we started furnishing the place with discarded beds from the hospital, cushions from local stores and whatever we have been able to get our hands on really,” Anette explains.

Having set up the new reception center, the job is now caring for isolated and vulnerable citizens.

“It fulfils me to help others and this way I have been able to see the impact I have made. I am pleased to be working in an organisation that makes this possible,” concludes Anette.

“My husband was not on-board. To begin with.”
Clinical Pharmaceutical Service is a division at Rigshospitalet – the largest hospital in Denmark – that usually dispenses medicines to patients from 8am to 4pm every day. However, in light of the circumstances, it was decided that the division would service patients with coronavirus from 7am to 11pm every day.

“Obviously, the division would be understaffed and I honestly believe they were understaffed before this. My choice to help was an easy one for me take,” says Monica.
“When the opportunity to volunteer came along I had already convinced myself that if I could help then I would. And it turned out I could.”

Monica is a mother of two and her husband was not easily convinced of the idea. His fear was about the risk of spreading the virus to their small family.

“It was imperative to me that my husband was on board with the idea. He is also a health professional, which made it easier for him to understand my motivation and why I would want to step up,” explained Monica.
“We sat down and talked about it in detail. We discussed what would happen in different scenarios and, in the end, we agreed with my initial thought: if I could help then I should – and now I am.”