I believe each of us has an obligation to give back and GSK's PULSE volunteer program is a continuation to my long standing commitment to doing just that. How lucky for me that I was matched with a partner agency that is a human service organization! I grew up the daughter of a social worker and have a special interest in addressing the adverse effects of poverty.
I have had the fortune of being selected as a PULSE volunteer for Urban Ministries of Wake County in Raleigh, NC working alongside the development department to revamp marketing communications. Urban Ministries has hosted three other PULSE volunteers. GSK PULSE alumni have assisted with the implementation of automated appointment scheduling, improved the integrated voice response system for the telephones, and reduced the time it takes for patients to receive important lab results.
After welcoming me, the medical director of the Open Door Clinic mentioned he was often struck by the countless ways GSK and Urban Ministries were connected. For starters, Urban Ministries--a non-profit human services organization that alleviates the effects of poverty in Wake County by meeting people's basic needs for food, shelter, and healthcare, providing services that promote self-sufficiency and building awareness of the issues of poverty within the larger community by leveraging financial support with volunteers and in-kind contributions--has received the GSK IMPACT award for excellence in community healthcare.
He recalled a time earlier in his career when he served as the onsite occupational medical director at Burroughs Welcome providing services to the employees in RTP and in Zebulon. But for the most part, I assumed the connection he was primarily referencing involved the $750,000 dollars of donated GSK medicine that he and his physician colleagues prescribe to low income, uninsured patients treated at the clinic each year. However, it didn't take me long to discover that the connectivity extended well beyond our pharmaceuticals.
Urban Ministries touches the lives of over 23,000 Wake County neighbors in crisis annually. Last year, GSK employees assisted with these relief efforts through individual financial contributions and company matched gifts. The GSK Response Center and Promotion Management Department contributed 273 pounds of food to the Urban Ministries' Food Pantry that provides 8,200 families each year with a week's worth of groceries. Medical supplies like peak flow meters, respiratory kits, and blood pressure monitors from GSK also support the oldest and largest free healthcare clinic in the county.
In addition to the product and financial contributions, GSK has a number of professionals among the 1,200 volunteers who contribute hours of time and care to the patients of the Open Door Clinic. To name a few...
Glenn, a physician, volunteered as a pulmonologist at the Open Door Clinic from 2005 until his appointment this summer as Medical Director of GSK in Canada. GSK encourages employee physicians to stay engaged in patient care by allowing time off to volunteer in clinical practice. Glenn commented that for him the opportunity to volunteer here allowed science and patient care to intersect in the most inspiring way. He felt most rewarded seeing GSK medicines help the people he treated to end the revolving door of asthma and COPD hospital visits and often return to a more productive life.
Craig, a GSK R&D Project and Portfolio Manager, serves as a pharmacist for the Open Door Clinic. After seventeen years with Urban Ministries, Craig still finds it very fulfilling to be a part of the spectrum of pharmaceutical care through both developing drugs at GSK and providing direct patient care through the clinic pharmacy.
Debbie works with Environment Health and Safety at GSK and is a nurse volunteer in the evening clinic at Urban Ministries once a month. As her job responsibilities changed at GSK over the years, she found herself moving away from her passion, direct patient care. Volunteering at the clinic allows her to reconnect with patients and stay current on new therapies and changes in disease management. She is particularly drawn to the opportunity to teach patients how to better manage their chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Debbie even rallied her fellow nurses within the North Carolina Association of Occupational Nurses to volunteer, raise funds for the clinic and gather food for the pantry.
Luz, a GSK R&D employee in Screening and Compound Profiling, spends the third Thursday of each month at Urban Ministries as an interpreter for clients in need of assistance. Her language skills have helped bridge the communication gap for clients in need for over 10 years! And Alex also provides interpretation for Urban Ministries teaching diabetes education classes twice a month for Spanish speaking patients.
As you can see, GSK and Urban Ministries are woven together in many ways...through product, through professionals, but most of all through a shared passion of making a difference in people's lives.