Global 3Mers respond to the coronavirus
Apr 21, 2020

While 3M is maximizing the production and delivery of N95 respirators to healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, individual employees are going above and beyond to help, too. Around the globe, 3Mers are working to assist people on the front lines – and sometimes working the front lines themselves.

From 3M to the ICU front lines in Canada

3Mer Dunia Pinnegar, a clinical specialist with 3M Canada, spends her days educating healthcare professionals, distribution partners and 3M sales representatives on clinical best practices and 3M products. At night, Dunia is also an intensive care unit nurse, putting in an average of 30 hours a month at her local hospital.

With the influx of COVID-19 cases at her local hospital, Dunia is using preplanned vacation time from 3M to pick up additional shifts to help her colleagues at the hospital. She’s put in a total of 60 hours on the healthcare front lines in March.

Dunia Pinnegar, 3M Canada

When asked why Dunia uses her time off to join the front lines, she said, "Partially because they need help with everything going on with COVID-19, but partially because it's hard to sit on the sidelines when you know you have the ability to help."

That front line work – which often involves wearing 3M personal protective equipment – also lends itself to a moment of pride.

"To have the ability to work with products that we trust, I know we're delivering the best possible care in both of my roles,” Dunia said.

Helping in the United States

At the 3M Aberdeen, South Dakota, plant, Kristi Marken said she’s aware there’s urgency to get as many N95 respirators out the door as possible during the outbreak. The plant began ramping up production in January as reports started coming in about the outbreak in China.

Kristi Marken, 3M Aberdeen

“I know the products we make are important to all people, and actually my daughter works at the Fargo (North Dakota) hospital, so she wears respirators every day,” the production operator said. “The respirators we produce help protect healthcare workers, so the more we can put out the door, the more people we can help."

Erik Poe, Value Stream manager for all respiratory production at 3M Aberdeen, said demand, which continues to outpace supply, required the plant to “put everything on the table” to increase the number of respirators going out the door.

Focusing on producing the most-common N95 respirators and simplifying packaging is “helping to minimize downtime of the manufacturing equipment and maximize the amount of time we’re producing product,” he said.

Erik Poe, 3M Aberdeen

And then there’s keeping the workers focused and healthy as the pandemic moves through their communities. The plant stepped up new protocols, including social distancing and providing extra cleaning, to keep workers focused and help address concerns about health.

“We have more clarity around purpose right now than we ever had. There’s not much argument about what we’re trying to do,” he said.

A personal donation in Germany

In Germany, when 3Mer Andreas Thiede heard that hospitals were facing ventilator shortages, he knew he had to help.

“I remembered that we still had two breathing machines we used with my father. He passed away some years ago and the equipment was still at my parents’ house,” the mobility support analyst said. So he contacted a hospital in his hometown of Frankfurt and was able to deliver the equipment to the hospital’s medical director the next day.

Andreas Thiede, 3M Germany

“The visit itself was very short and we made sure to keep the distance,” said Andreas.

“I hope the breathing machines can help someone.”

First responders: 3M China

The efforts of 3Mers to help their communities during the pandemic can be traced back to the emergence of the virus in China, where employees took immediate action to expedite production and delivery of critical supplies—simultaneously navigating border closures and travel restrictions.

3M China donations bound for Wuhan

One of the initial hurdles was connecting with employees who had traveled to their hometowns for the Spring Festival holiday to recall them in order for 3M to ramp up production. At just three months in her human resources role, Karen Shen connected with product managers and was able to contact 40 employees to have them return to the production line.

The 3M team in China knew answering the demand for respirators would be difficult through regional production alone, so quickly mobilized and fast-tracked approval for 3M to import 1860 and 1870+ medical respirators into the country. In collaboration with the Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration, Wesley Lu and Dora Yang from 3M’s Personal Safety Division, along with Julia Ye and Yuki Liu of the Medical Solutions Division, worked to create the necessary product instruction translations, testing and certification documentation and technical data required for approval — a process that would typically take months — and ultimately managed to get the greenlight within a single week.

China also saw some of the earliest cases of counterfeit “3M” respirators, requiring Rain Ni, Jensen Li, Quintus Tang and the 3M Trademark Team to early on field more than 800 authentication requests from local enforcement agencies. As a result of one inquiry, Mike Gannon and Eric Gerber from the trademark team based in St. Paul, Minnesota, collaborated with the FBI, Homeland Security, Alibaba, Chinese PSB and the 3M legal team in China to coordinate a raid on the Chinese warehouse of a New Jersey-based counterfeiter. The raid resulted in the seizure of approximately a quarter million pieces of counterfeit "3M" branded personal protective equipment (PPE).

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