From the very beginning of what has become a global health crisis, the Group has prepared and mobilized itself across the globe, putting its continuity plans into action and implementing remote working for its teams.
The Healthcare teams quickly organized themselves in order to meet the increased demand for medical oxygen, to guarantee the supply of equipment such as respirators for hospitals and to secure the return of stabilized patients to their homes. Within a few weeks, this mobilization became essential to helping healthcare workers save lives.
Medical oxygen demand increased fivefold, sometimes even six-fold, in the most affected areas. In China, the Huaerwen site teams tripled their cylinder-filling capacity in order to secure supplies to 450 hospitals in the east of the country. All over the world, our teams have had to implement or adapt installations in record time—such as the San Maurizio de Bolzano hospital in Italy, where an oxygen tank was installed in a few days.
To meet the increased needs of hospitals in France and in response to the Government’s request, Air Liquide has partnered with Groupe PSA, Schneider Electric and Valeo to produce 10,000 respirators over 50 days, the equivalent of its usual production over three years.“We faced a truly industrial, but also human challenge”, explains Benoît Potier, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Group.
Supporting hospitals also means relieving them. Working alongside medical teams, Home Healthcare entities in Europe have supported the return home of COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen therapy treatment after leaving the hospital.They have also continued to support patients suffering from chronic diseases through the use of special measures: remote video follow-ups and home visits for the most critical patients, in accordance with specific safety protocols.
The significant mobilization efforts of our employees have been recognized many times by healthcare professionals and patients alike.
"In the early days of the crisis, patients were worried when we came to their homes but they were reassured by our protective equipment and our advice. It was our role to explain, with patience and education, hygiene rules that protect them."
Air Liquide teams have been involved in initiatives that have emerged in China, Europe, the United States, Brazil, etc. For example, they have been working to convert certain locations (parking lots, stadiums, etc.) into field hospitals. Over four days, the Palacio Municipal convention center in Madrid (IFEMA) was turned into Spain’s largest hospital, with 5,500 beds, over a third supplied with medical gases.
In France, Air Liquide was involved in the implementation of medicalized highspeed trains in order to relieve overcrowded hospitals in the East region. The Group also contributed to the early opening of a new intensive care unit at the Henri-Mondor AP-HP hospital(Assistance publique–Hôpitaux de Paris (Public assistance hospitals of Paris): public health institution in France.), located in the Paris area.
"I want to thank Air Liquide for all the efforts made to continue taking care of patients, despite the risks involved."
Spontaneous acts of solidarity have increased. Across the world, employees of di fferent Group ent i t ies have come forward to help their Healthcare colleagues. Home Healthcare entities, for their part, have provided hospitals with concentrators, respirators and hospital beds—all precious resources during this time of crisis. The Air Liquide Foundation has proactively contributed to this dynamic by supporting scientific research projects connected with the pandemic. Out in the field, it has also increased aid for local associations that are operating among the most vulnerable communities.
A further challenge has been maintaining and adapting the gas supply in order to guarantee the supply chain for essential sectors such as the food industry, energy or healthcare. At its sites, Air Liquide has refocused its operations on the production of molecules that are essential to health, nutrition and mobility. This continuity of service has been recognized by many of our customers. Teams have also been mobilized in Electronics in order to ensure the supply of advanced materials required for the manufacture of semiconductors, essential for the digital infrastructures that were particularly in demand during the crisis.
In tackling these industrial and human challenges, Air Liquide is more than ever in line with its ambition to contribute to a sustainable society, with all its stakeholders.
HEALTHCARE, A LONG-STANDING COMMITMENT
For many years, Air Liquide has been a major player in home healthcare throughout the world, an expert in homecare for chronic diseases and a supplier of medical gases for hospitals. Today, the Group helps 1.7 million patients at home and 15,000 hospitals and clinics in over 35 countries.
Article published on June 18, 2020