EDC COVID-19 Response: Leading with Strategy and Empathy

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we went from adapting to the mandated changes to crafting a future-proof work environment. One that puts the safety of our people and customers first through workplace policies and vaccine rollout and reallocation.

We established a Corporate COVID-19 Incident Management Team (Corporate IMT) responsible for the end-to-end COVID-19 response of the Company.

Tuesday and Friday mornings. Five minutes before nine, the Zoom meeting room opens. One by one, the participants start to log in. The regular Corporate IMT biweekly meeting now commences.

The meeting typically starts with global and national updates—developments in treatments and vaccine studies, new government mandates, changes in alert levels. After which, each site representative is given ample time to share updates from the respective Site COVID-19 IMTs—a site-based group composed of employees from various departments such as Occupational Health, Safety, Supply Chain Management, Facility Administration, among others. They are responsible for implementing COVID-19- related control measures and managing different issues that arise locally. Dr. Rose Alcances-Inocencio, the Corporate IMT Head, provides significant and high-level updates from the Corporate Crisis Management Committee (CMC)—the group where Corporate IMT reports to.

In 2021, the Corporate IMT became stronger with its new members – two doctors serving as Head for the Corporate COVID-19-19 Health Operations and Lead for COVID-19-19 Incident Management & Occupational Health (OH) Projects. Handling varied facets of COVID-19 response, the new members leveraged their vast experience in public and occupational health in crafting and putting in place several standards to keep EDC a safe and healthful workplace for its workers.

A COVID-19 Program Specialist was likewise hired to oversee that measures were executed smoothly across the fleet. And to further streamline the COVID-19 response, one to two COVID-19 Program Officers were deployed to each site—they were responsible for carrying out the program up to the most minute details in their respective sites.

The Corporate IMT has always been on the lookout for the trends and developments of COVID-19 response in the global and local arena. Following careful review of the studies and pronouncements from health organizations such as the World Health Organization, US Center for Disease Control & Prevention, and the Philippine Department of Health, the Corporate IMT revisited and updated several of its guidelines and procedures to align EDC’s COVID-19 response with that of the global and national standards.

The Corporate IMT ensured that all bases were covered from prevention, detection, isolation, and treatment up until reintegration.
The group took a considerable role in the conglomerate’s vaccination efforts. From promoting the benefits of vaccines, logistics assistance, data management up until post-vaccination monitoring, the Corporate IMT devoted a significant amount of time and effort to ensure that the Company met its target of internal herd immunity contributing to the national goal.

Through all these efforts, we successfully reached a 99.5% vaccination rate among all our employees, which also included contractors and our employees’ close family members.

Furthermore, the team assisted employees who would need to travel from one site to another, ensuring that all health and safety requirements of both the Company and the Local Government Units (LGUs) were observed harmonious relationships with LGUs and other local stakeholders such as hospitals, quarantine, and testing facilities were maintained for smooth transactions. Entry to and movement within worksites were monitored periodically to guarantee that all protocols were in place and being followed.

In 2021, Corporate IMT introduced and implemented Surveillance Testing – a sampling of a certain percentage of a specified population. This aims to monitor the prevalence and determine the effects of control measures such as physical distancing at a population level.

This year, the Company made use of the Advanced Social Distancing with Contact Tracing System. This system promotes social distancing among individuals using card tags that have visual, audible, and vibration alerts upon close contact. Close contact events were recorded, saved, and uploaded to a central database for contact tracing purposes.

Recognizing the significant impact of proper ventilation in COVID-19 transmission mitigation, the Corporate IMT developed and carried out the Ventilation Assessment, Implementation, and Monitoring guidelines that ensure adequate ventilation is observed in EDC workplaces.

The Corporate IMT, believing in the value of worker empowerment, tapped some employees to serve as COVID-19 Marshals. Serving as Corporate IMT’s allies, the COVID-19 Marshals champion workers’ positive behavior and culture to their compliance with minimum public health standards and COVID-19-19 protocols.

Through the Occupational Health (OH) team, the Corporate IMT continued its end-to-end assistance to employees and their dependents who were infected with the COVID-19-19 virus. The support of the team included issuing teleconsult and helplines, sending COVID-19-19 care kits to affected workers, providing an isolation facility from a converted hotel outfitted with medical personnel, and securing a slot in hospitals during the time that health facilities were overwhelmed with patient admissions.

At the end of 2021, all sites (Burgos, Bacman, Leyte, Southern Negros, and Mt. Apo) were awarded the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) Safety Seal – a voluntary certification scheme that validates that an establishment is compliant with the minimum public health standards set by the government.

Tuesday and Friday mornings. Around 10 am, the participants start to log off one by one. The Corporate IMT meeting has ended. Work on the ground begins