Baxter International Inc. recently provided an update on how the company is responding to the COVID-19 epidemic that is challenging communities and healthcare systems throughout the world. The company’s support remains focused on increasing supply of its life-sustaining medicines and medical devices amidst unprecedented, rising demand; protecting employee health and safety; expanding job opportunities globally to help meet increased product demand; and providing philanthropic grants to support impacted communities.
“Baxter’s mission is to Save and Sustain Lives, and that commitment guides everything we do – even when the obstacles seem greatest,” said José (Joe) E. Almeida, chairman and chief executive officer. “The heroic work by healthcare providers and first responders to care for those with COVID-19 inspires us all. We are committed to doing everything we can to support the healthcare system, our employees and our communities during this unprecedented time.”
Increasing Product Supply & Distribution
Since the emergence of COVID-19 and associated surge of patient hospitalizations, demand for certain Baxter products has increased significantly compared to normal ordering levels. In turn, Baxter has boosted its capacity and production to help address higher demand for products including PrisMax and Prismaflex, the company’s blood purification systems used to treat acute kidney injury and other conditions, along with the solutions and consumables that enable them; its Mini-Bag Plus drug delivery system; the Spectrum IQ Infusion System and accompanying I.V. administration sets; I.V. solutions; and injectable drugs used in the ICU and across the hospital. All Baxter facilities manufacturing these products are maximizing production levels and continuing to pursue all opportunities to further increase supply, enabling the company to deliver as much as possible for those medical devices and medicines that are in high demand.
“Our medically essential products put us on the front lines of this pandemic, and our 50,000 colleagues are rising to the challenge to make a meaningful difference for patients,” said Almeida. “Given that demand is at extraordinary levels, it is critical that we prioritize getting our products where they are most needed – hospitals that are being overwhelmed by an influx of patients who are critically ill from COVID-19.”
Baxter’s process for product allocations during the COVID-19 pandemic is based on specific criteria that helps deliver the company’s life-saving products where they are needed the most. These efforts are informed in part from objective research sources, such as the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, government data reporting, such as U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and academic data, such as Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. While current customers will continue to have access to Baxter products, this process will strive to dedicate additional inventory to hospitals around the world with the greatest COVID-19 patient care needs and will be updated regularly to reflect the dynamic situation.
Baxter is increasing its access to air freight capacity as well as the frequency of transporting critically needed medical devices and medicines back and forth between the U.S. and Europe. Flights will start this week, and the new airbridge will help the company get more products to hospitals as quickly as possible. Baxter continues to aggressively monitor the availability of, and source incremental, raw materials and components to help ensure supply continuity. The company also remains focused on supporting patients with chronic diseases who rely on life-sustaining Baxter therapies, including parenteral nutrition and dialysis.
Protecting Employee Health & Safety
Baxter’s staged pandemic response plan, which follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, is active across all facilities globally. The response plan includes protective measures such as enhanced infection control actions, remote working arrangements for office-based employees, restricted travel, symptom screening at building entrances, and use of personal protective equipment by employees. Manufacturing operations have also been modified to limit interactions between employee groups.
Baxter’s manufacturing, quality, warehousing, delivery, field service employees and Renal Care Services employees continue their work to help ensure the company’s products remain at the ready to treat patients around the globe. In recognition of the extraordinary role these employees hold in the supply of medical products to hospitals and patient homes, the company has instituted a special pandemic incentive for its front-line workers. In addition, the company has implemented a volunteerism program, which provides an avenue for Baxter employees with appropriate medical training and licensure, including physicians and nurses, to take a leave of absence from the company and volunteer within their communities.
Expanding Employment Opportunities
Amidst significant economic disruption, increased demand for the company’s products is creating additional permanent and temporary employment opportunities – up to 2,000 new positions globally, 800 of which are in the United States. The company is looking for talented and passionate individuals to join in a variety of roles worldwide, primarily in manufacturing to help bolster production. Roles are available for those with minimal experience in manufacturing and will include robust training. More information on available jobs is at www.baxter.com/careers.
Donations for Humanitarian Relief
The Baxter International Foundation is providing more than $2 million in financial support for humanitarian relief organizations on the front lines of the pandemic globally. This includes a $1 million grant to Save the Children, who is working around the world to provide supplies, training, and information to prevent the pandemic, in addition to comprehensive efforts to strengthen communities and keep children and families safe—supporting food security, helping children continue to learn, and more. It also includes support for World Vision’s COVID-19 Global Emergency Response, and geographic-specific support to Direct Relief in Europe, Project Hope in Asia, Americares in Latin America and the iBio Institute and local United Way chapters in the Chicagoland area. These latest donations build on initial grants to the global United Nations Foundation/WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, IsraAID and Partners in Health. Finally, the Foundation is supporting its pre-existing grantee base by providing options to reallocate and/or extend funds as appropriate during this time.