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May 4th, 2020

On the frontlines of COVID-19

Sales representatives are the frontline ambassadors of Cook: they represent Cook’s dedication in serving patients through their highest level of clinical expertise, work ethic, and courage, especially during this unprecedented time.

Wilson Cheung, Territory Manager for the Vascular Division, based in Hong Kong.

On January 23, the city of Wuhan, in the Hubei province in east central China, went into lockdown with all air and rail departures and arrivals suspended. On the same day, Wilson Cheung, a territory manager for the Vascular division, was on his way from Hong Kong to Shenzhen. He was headed there to back up a sales representative (who was from Wuhan and who had to return to his hometown before it banned entrance), to provide clinical support to physicians during an operation.

‘The coronavirus spread was getting intense in China by the end of January, it was a time when confirmed cases were first reported outside of Hubei province, and a time when China state broadcasting first confirmed human-to-human transmission’, said Wilson, recalling the initial stage of virus outbreak in China.

Wilson knew that he would be setting foot on land being widely considered as the centre of outbreak, that he would be staying within the same confined space with other travellers, and that he would be entering hospitals where there could be patients infected with COVID-19.

‘We all fear what we don’t know, especially when we’re facing this life-threatening novel coronavirus’, he said.

During the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, Wilson had learned some valuable lessons that he could apply to the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘When news emerged of a mysterious virus outbreak in mainland China, Hong Kong people, almost out of instinct, started wearing masks, washing their hands more frequently, and practising social distancing’, he said. ‘These are sensible measures that health experts later credited as effective in staving off the spread of virus’.

Soon, it was confirmed that the virus could be carried through respiratory droplets being coughed or sneezed out by infected patients.

‘This sort of tempered people’s fears a little, because we are almost certain that we have been doing the right thing to mitigate risks of transmission’, Wilson said.

In the hospitals

Patients cannot wait until the end of the virus outbreak to be treated. Even though hospitals are considered places of high risks, Cook’s sales representatives still serve with the highest level of dedication and work ethic at the difficult times.

‘Serving patients is a privilege, they inspire and motivate me to do what I do every day’, Wilson said.

There are plenty of measures to protect sales reps when visiting hospitals. Wilson wears an N95 mask, maintains social distance with people in the hospital, and takes the stairs instead of the elevator.

‘Cook has been very responsive to the needs of frontline staff as well. We were provided with basic protective equipment such as N95 masks and safety goggles’, he said.

Inside the operating theatre where sales reps provide clinical assistance to doctors and nurses, seeing the patient through to the finish line of the operation is their only goal.

‘Everyone is there to leverage their expertise to bring better patient outcomes,” Wilson said. “We seldom think about anything else’.

As bad as it is globally, the impact of this new epidemic on each country’s healthcare system would have been far worse without the effort of all frontline health workers. Whether they are health workers directly serving C-19 patients or others responsible for maintaining the overall healthcare capability, they are all precious manpower who are helping us all get through the crisis.

‘Even if you’re not a health worker, you also have an important role to play by supporting them around this epidemic’, Wilson said. ‘Make good use of modern technology, call them, text them, and show care for them’.

And remember, we are all in this together.