December 20, 2017 – Just three months ago today, the second of back-to-back hurricanes wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico.
First came Hurricane Irma on Sept. 6. We dodged a bullet as the eye of hurricane skirted the northeastern side of Puerto Rico as a Category 5 storm. The storm, however, left thousands without power and caused some wind damage.
Two weeks later, we weren’t as fortunate.
A second Category 5, Hurricane Maria, made landfall on Sept. 20 – causing more damage, even taking lives and fully testing the resolve of the great people on the island.
When the storm passed, millions of people across Puerto Rico woke up to a harsh new reality. Maria ravaged the island, demolishing homes, creating intense flooding in some areas and knocking out all electricity. For many, the road to recovery would be a long one.
Going to Work
I thought I would try and make my way to the plant the next day, not knowing fully what to expect. I drove past damaged businesses, turned over cars and flooded streets. Despite all the destruction, many residents appeared to be reporting to work, ready to roll up their sleeves.
From a plant perspective, there was a lot to do. We wanted to lay out a very organized approach, with the commitment that anything was possible. The team was ready to make all sorts of sacrifices to stand the plant back up.
Each day we saw progress – whether it was cleaning up debris, replacing ceiling tiles or reserving bandwidth to ensure our quality systems were running.
It was important to “do work” and create some sense of normalcy for the people around me. Executing our recovery plan served as a good distraction for what many were experiencing at home and in their communities.
As the site leader, I can’t tell you how appreciative we were of the support given to us. From performing well checks on the safety of all team members, to donated goods and supplies or ensuring our payroll was submitted. The generosity received from Mylan leadership was a key contributor and the catalyst for us all to do more.
You can’t make high quality medicine without people. And our people were treated with respect during these difficult times. The company did many wonderful things, such as providing meals, fuel and chainsaws. It was more important than simply gasoline or diesel – these gestures provided hope. These actions made us stronger and spiraled into people doing their best at work and at home.
In the spirit of doing good, we helped locally with providing meals to area police and national guard, donated diesel to Caguas Children’s Hospital and provided medicines through various international relief organizations.
Word spread around the island about what Mylan was doing for our people and our community. There was a sense of pride in doing the right thing and helping one another.
We recently attended a celebration hosted by the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association where Mylan was honored. We had team members recognized as “heroes” for stepping up during the storm to be at the site, protecting our plant.
So much has happened since Maria, and many still do not have electricity at their homes. Despite it all, we fully leveraged of our most precious resource – our people. We’ve transformed Mylan Caguas forever.
I continue to say what defines us is how well we rise after falling. And right now, your colleagues in Caguas are standing tall.
Celebrating 30 Years
Amidst the chaos, our Caguas site reached an important milestone in 2017 with 30 years of operations in Puerto Rico. During a town hall meeting last week, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch and President Rajiv Malik spoke to the 400-plus team members via a computer teleconference, thanking everyone for their commitment and giving a special recognition to our longest serving employees. It was a special recognition of the important role our site plays in providing medicine to customers and patients.
From our home to yours, thank you for your continued support.
Head of OSD Site Operations, Puerto Rico