On World Humanitarian Day (WHD) on August 19, the world honors all aid and health workers who continue, despite the odds, to provide life-saving support and protection to people most in need. This year, World Humanitarian Day comes as the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic over recent months.
World Humanitarian Day on August 19 honors humanitarian workers killed and injured in the line of duty. This year’s commemoration comes as the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. PRA Health Sciences mobilized early on in the fight against COVID-19 and has continued to demonstrate its leadership on a global scale. At the same time, individual PRA teammates around the globe stepped up to make a difference by volunteering in their communities. These are shining examples of PRA’s shared commitment to improving lives, not only through drug development, but whenever and wherever there is a need.
Our company mobilized early on in the fight against COVID-19, formulating strategic decisions and plans of action. At the same time, individual colleagues from around the globe stepped up, selflessly giving their time, talents, and energy to spread positivity and make a difference in their communities by volunteering on the front lines of the COVID fight in medical and general healthcare capacities.
These are shining examples of the PRA spirit and our shared commitment to improving lives, not only through drug development, but whenever and wherever there is a need.
Some of PRA’s #RealLifeHeroes share their inspiring stories in their own words below.
For the last couple of years I’ve been volunteering for a small, local organization in my neighborhood that is working to bring people together to support each other in a neighborly way. We run a small office coordinating requests for and offers of support—mostly visiting older people and accompanying them to appointments but also helping families and children practice their German. We also organized events two to three times per month, including travel to local concerts or exhibitions.
Due to COVID-19, we had to close the office and stop all organized activities. Before COVID-19, I was helping out in the office once a month, supplying an elderly lady (she turned 100 this year) with audiobooks and taking a small group of older ladies to the local swimming pool. Now that none of that is possible, I am making regular phone calls to a number of older people, as they are suffering greatly from staying at home and not seeing anybody. Often times, their families do not live close by, and they are grateful to have someone to talk to. I’m also making twice weekly shopping rounds for two older couples in my neighborhood who do not feel safe going to the shops—small things that support those who are more impacted by COVID-19 than I am.
Andrea Wilson, Project Director, Germany
In April, I began volunteering with the Salt Lake County Medical Reserve Corps. I’m on the testing team and we help to test vulnerable populations in our community along with areas that have become hot spots. My job is to assist in swabbing for testing samples and the administrative process for COVID-19 testing. It has been a challenge to respond to the needs in our community. The N95 masks or PAPRs are uncomfortable to wear, especially in the heat for long periods of time, but the extensive PPE and sanitation precautions help me feel safe and confident.
Recently, our team helped to test over 1,000 people within three days at drive-through test sites. It has been an incredible opportunity to witness the kindness and compassion of people from all walks of life coming together. We’ve volunteered alongside the National Guard, Air Force, and medical students in our community. I strongly encourage you all to look into joining the Medical Reserve corps in your local county at https://mrc.hhs.gov/.
Janice Ly, Medical Research Associate, Utah, USA
I’ve been proactive in making masks and facial coverings for children in the foster care system in Broward County, Florida. Our county was hit very hard by COVID-19 and, with PPE being spared for essential workers, this population had a very large need for masks. While working remotely and managing my sites here in South Florida, I wanted to help out the best way I could. I thought, “What about the kids?” My clinical nursing background is in pediatrics and these kids hold a special spot in my heart. It brings me great pleasure to do and share what I can in these uncertain times. The masks are made with fun fabrics and colors so the children will not be frightened to wear them. It's a small gesture but the appreciation is huge!
Tara Strawbridge, RN, BSN, Clinical Research Associate III, Florida, USA
I’ve been a member of the Air National Guard in Ohio for several years. About a month ago, I was activated to help and assist at the headquarters level in a multi-service task force (Army & Air Force) created to support various needs across the state. I help coordinate and service supplies and personnel in support of several medical missions. These missions range from COVID-19 testing to taking care of different patient populations in numerous settings. I’m happy to support my team. I think it has been vitally important for us to contribute in any way possible during this time. Thanks to my co-workers and leadership team at PRA—they’ve supported me wholeheartedly when I have been out working in the field!
Teresa Bennett, Research Principal, Ohio, USA
I’ve been volunteering as a nurse at the community clinic in my town (Roxton Pond, QC, Canada) for about one year. The clinic coordinator asked me if I was for real when I called to offer to help with the blood test/vaccination clinic. I said I could even come to help with just one intravenous install on difficult patients if needed because of my previous experience in pediatrics and varicose vein treatment.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the clinic nurses needed more help because of the need to disinfect everything between each patient, so I’ve been helping with the Wednesday morning bloodwork for the past three weeks. Using my experience to lend a hand in uncertain times such as these helps me feel like I’m really making an impact.
Catherine Bilodeau, RN, Clinical Research Scientist, Canada
I’ve been volunteering with Team Rubicon during this time, which has been working with the Utah Department of Health to set up a 250+ bed overflow hospital, complete with medical staff quarters and a pharmacy. It also includes cots, toddler beds, and infant cribs.
We inventory supplies sent from the CDC and FEMA, pack and distribute boxes of household necessities like diapers and toilet paper, and work daily with the Salvation Army and food banks across the country to help pack and hand out food boxes. Our location in Salt Lake City can hand out over 200 boxes/hot meals in an hour!
I think the most emotional moment was looking at the toddler beds and infant cribs at the hospital and considering the little ones that would occupy them (and already were occupying them around the globe).
I wanted to share this to encourage others to get out and volunteer, especially now when there is so much need. Even something as basic as packing a box of food or sorting diapers by size can have a huge impact on someone's life.
Olga Gray, Medical Research Associate, Utah, USA
I’ve been a member of Delaware County (PA) Medical Reserve Corp (MRC) for many years. The MRC, part of Delaware County Citizen Corps, has been described as a quasi-governmental organization, but it is almost all volunteer. The DelcoCitizenCorp holds disaster drills and uses live flu clinics to deliver vaccines as a practice to prepare for any type of contamination disaster where vaccines or medication are needed to be dispensed quickly to the community.
For COVID-19, I’ve been volunteering and providing medical assistance at the Refuge at Glen Mills School, the site of a quarantine location for first responders who’ve had contact with a COVID-19 positive patient. It’s a safe place for them to stay, away from their families, colleagues, and community, until they are sure they are not sick with coronavirus. The Glen Mills School is also where the National Guard set up an overflow hospital that will be activated if needed. My role can vary. I will test (for COVID-19), do a face mask fit test, and volunteer in the field overflow hospital if it goes into use—whatever they need.
Nancy Fariss, Drug Safety Associate, Pennsylvania, USA
We had a good day at the Prince George County, Maryland COVID-19 testing site near FedEx Field. There were only three of us with the proper credentials at our site to do the actual swabbing. It’s pretty uncomfortable for the people getting the test and, of course, they typically cough right in our face. We did have appropriate PPE, thankfully. Once onsite and dressed in the PPE, there are no breaks and no ability to even take a sip of water, so you have to be aware of dehydration. We’re on a site set up by the National Guard, and they have a large presence. We got 100 people tested—that’s all the kits we received for the day.
Mark Sorrentino, Vice President, Center for Pediatric Clinical Development and Center for Vaccine Research, Maryland, USA
PRA is enormously proud of the dedicated and passionate employees that make up our global workforce. The extraordinary resilience and commitment to making a meaningful impact on clinical research and—most importantly—improving patients’ lives throughout this global health emergency has been nothing short of inspirational.
Prepared During Challenging Times
PRA is committed to supporting the global community as we navigate these uncertain and challenging times together.
Our team of clinical research and healthcare intelligence experts are dedicated to preventing and eliminating diseases—and they are determined to lead the fight in eradicating COVID-19 and ensuring people around the world live the healthiest lives possible.Read about our most recent COVID-19 related innovations.
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