How our teams in China tackled early COVID-19 challenges

Our teams in China share what worked when faced with the impossible

March 1, 2020

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When news of the COVID-19 outbreak first hit, our teams in China swung into action to support each other — and to maintain our commitment to providing patients with the care and resources they need. Here are the three big lessons learned from their experiences.

1. Keep the focus on patients.

The teams never lost sight of George Merck’s words that “medicine is for the people,” even during a time of turmoil and great upheaval. They continued this mission in many ways, including compiling a 1 million RMB donation for the Chinese Red Cross Foundation and to support the construction of Leishenshan Hospital, a second specialty hospital to treat coronavirus patients in Wuhan. Additionally, the team launched online campaigns to educate the public about respiratory disease and provided articles to help provide up-to-date treatment guidelines for health care professionals.

2. Create new ways to ensure business continuity.

Our colleagues banded together to get work done and keep the business humming. In the early days of the outbreak, a cross-functional task force realized the seriousness of the situation and went to work moving almost everything online, from remote training for sales teams to virtual town halls.

3. Keep employees safe.

The IT team developed a quick and easy mobile tool to track employee health status – which was no small feat, considering there are nearly 8,000 employees in 31 provinces. And, when it was time to get back to work, the regional task force comprised of facility management, environmental health, and safety teams sprang into action to develop back-to-work plans for employees and self-protection tips.

According to Joe Romanelli, SVP, managing director of MSD China, it was remarkable to see the teams in action:

"I'm so proud and thankful to our people who rallied together to help our employees, our patients and our customers during this unprecedented period. We have great people at MSD, and it's times like these that reinforce how lucky we are to work for a great company with passionate employees."

Joe Romanelli