Boehringer Ingelheim employees are committed to their fellow human beings – at work and in their free time. Many colleagues have also shown great dedication in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Five inspiring examples from around the world.
Spain has been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a particularly high number of cases in the country’s cities – such as Valencia, the hometown of Rosa Morell. She works as Sales Representative at Boehringer Ingelheim and has taken sewing classes for a few years now as a leisure activity. When the first COVID-19 cases occurred in Valencia in March 2020, the course instructor asked the participants whether they would like to sew protective masks. “That was no problem for us, we are all good at sewing,” says Morell. They divided up into three different groups: "One group cuts up pieces of cloth and rubber bands, another sews the masks, and a third group delivers them," Morell explains. These hardworking seamstresses have thus sewed around 100,000 masks to date: for clinics, for the Caritas charitable organization, for the fire department, and for the police. “When COVID-19 appeared, I wanted to help and didn’t know how,” says Morell. “But once I got started sewing masks, I couldn’t stop.” Morell is particularly proud that the mayor of Valencia has awarded her sewing group the city’s Medal of Honor.
Robb Kociol is a physician. In the spring of 2020, when the infection rate in New York City shot up faster than almost anywhere else in the world, Kociol, who works as Executive Director and Medical Expert at Boehringer Ingelheim rushed to help. He worked 13-hour shifts in a large hospital, for which Boehringer Ingelheim gave him paid time off. Together with other physicians and nurses, he helped treat patients in the COVID-19 intensive care unit. “It meant a great deal to me,” Kociol tells us. “The situation in New York was extremely shocking, but I had the feeling that I could really make a positive contribution.”
And he continues to do so – but now in his free time on the weekends. Since the beginning of January 2021, he has been providing support for COVID-19 vaccinations, and, as a volunteer, he vaccinated some of the first health professionals who signed up. “It is a very fulfilling task,” says Kociol.
Sanjay Gulani learned about the importance of social engagement from his parents at a young age. “My parents taught me as a child that people should support one another,” says Gulani, who works as an Area Sales Manager in Ahmedabad, Gujarat State. He has been working with the non-profit organization Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), which provides food for the needy, for quite some time. The city of Ahmedabad was one of the locations where RSSB started with the food packages. Gulani supports the team there. During the COVID-19 pandemic, RSSB has been delivering around 45,000 packages instead of 5,000 food rations per day. Since the start of the crisis, Gulani has spent every weekend supporting the RSSB team. “If life offers us the opportunity to help others, then we should do so,” he says.
When COVID-19 began to spread in Norway in April 2020 and the pressure on the healthcare system steadily increased, the qualified intensive care nurse Anne Hunstad knew that she wanted to return to the health clinic. Before joining Boehringer Ingelheim, she had spent many years at a hospital in the Oslo region. She now wanted to support her former colleagues during the crisis because there is a shortage of personnel in Norwegian hospitals. “Two specialists are required in order to ventilate a COVID-19 patient,” says Hunstad. In the spring of 2020, she spent 80 percent of her time at the hospital and 20 percent as a nurse educator at Boehringer Ingelheim. The first few weeks at the hospital were highly emotional for her: She looked after patients who were not allowed to have any contact with the outside world. Working in full protection gear was more of a strain than she had expected. She was forced to watch a sick person die of COVID-19. Nonetheless, it is important for Hunstad to remain optimistic. “As we watch a patient’s condition improve, we can see how our hard work is paying off,” she remarks. When the number of COVID-19 patients rose sharply again in November 2020, she resumed her service at the hospital without hesitation.
Anika Kuehling met Albina and Hildegard – two senior citizens from a retirement home in Melbourne – nearly two years ago. They both had no friends and no family left in the city and often felt lonely. “I myself have long been thinking about what it’s like to be alone at that age,” says Kuehling, who works as a Hospital Sales Representative for Boehringer Ingelheim. She decided to visit the ladies once a week for coffee and cake and became an important part of their lives. Hildegard passed away last fall at age 94, and Albina probably needs her young friend Anika now more than ever. In Australia, personal visits were put on ice for several months due to COVID-19. Nevertheless, they still continued to enjoy coffee together – in front of screens, connected via video call. “The pandemic is hitting old people hardest, since they frequently no longer have any friends or relatives or else they live a long way away,” says Kuehling. Their conversation is frequently the highlight of Albina’s week. It is not just the senior who looks forward to the conversation. Kuehling says she can learn a lot from older people like Albina who have experienced so much in their lives. “She often shows me that my own problems are only minor ones.”
Boehringer Ingelheim is contributing 7 million euros in cash donations and donations in kind to the global fight against the pandemic.
Boehringer Ingelheim has committed 580,000 euros to a relief fund in support of its global “Making More Health” network, which consists of social entrepreneurs and their communities in Kenya and India.
Boehringer Ingelheim is researching potential therapies for COVID-19 patients. The company is also participating in international initiatives such as the CARE consortium and the Therapeutics Accelerator of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Volunteers play an important role in many communities. Boehringer Ingelheim is offering its around 52,000 employees worldwide the opportunity to take up to ten days of fully paid leave in order to assist external organizations in their fight against COVID-19.