When a major earthquake and tsunami struck the east coast of Japan on March 11, Baxter employees immediately went to work to ensure that patients in the affected areas had access to essential medical products. In addition to hospitals, employees also attempted to contact some 1,200 peritoneal dialysis (PD) patients in the region to make sure they were safe and could still conduct their therapy. These patients, who suffer from end-stage kidney disease, depend on PD - a home therapy for which Baxter is a leading provider of products and services - to cleanse their blood of toxins, waste and excess fluid normally removed by healthy kidneys.
With phone lines down in several areas, Baxter staff had to go to some patients' homes and also searched evacuation centers and nearby hospitals to locate patients. By Day 3 after the earthquake, phone lines were restored and employees were able to make contact with many of them, some of whom needed product immediately. With many roads closed and a lack of gasoline, Baxter worked closely with its supply chain partners to provide these life-saving products to patients.
Today, the official death toll from the earthquake has been estimated at more than 13,000, with over 14,500 more people registered as missing. Fortunately, all Baxter employees and their families were safe and the company's manufacturing operation in Miyazaki was not affected, although some of Baxter's distribution centers in the northeast part of the country were damaged, causing the company to seek alternative logistics support to reach customers in the region. Baxter Japan employees also sent packages of food and other items to their Baxter colleagues in the worst-hit areas, including hand-written notes expressing their well wishes.
In addition, Baxter worked with the Japanese government to identify essential medical supplies for earthquake victims, and set up a global relief program through The Baxter International Foundation for employees to contribute to relief efforts. Under the foundation's Employee Disaster Relief Matching Gift Program, the foundation matches employee contributions on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a maximum of $150,000. To date, more than 700 Baxter employees have contributed more than $70,000 toward this campaign.
Baxter Japan also decided to donate more than 70,000 units of saline solution immediately after the earthquake, and the company donated more than 4,000 units of intravenous (IV) antibiotics and other IV solutions through AmeriCares, a humanitarian aid organization and long-time Baxter donor partner. The AmeriCares shipment arrived in Tokyo on Monday, April 4, with products destined for several hospitals, shelters and other health facilities for use by medical teams caring for patients.