The Angels Initiative as a Second Chance
06 November 2018
Michael Eppelmann

The Angels Initiative as a Second Chance

All around the world, Boehringer Ingelheim employees work on creating value through innovation. Travelling with the sun, our new “Star Storytellers” series features aspirational individuals from east to west who embody our values and bring them to life.

We want to start with a story about the role the Angels Initiative is playing in Vietnam, and how a personal mission means that thousands of stroke patients get their own second chance at life.

It can happen to anyone, anywhere. According to European statistics, every 30 minutes a stroke patient dies or is permanently disabled because of not being treated properly. Our employee Cam-Tu Vo tragically had to make that experience in her personal life, too: “My uncle has died from stroke, just because he lived far away from a hospital with a stroke unit.”

Unfortunately, this incident is not an exceptional case at all. According to Vo, less than 1% of all stroke patients in her home country Vietnam and many other developing countries get access to therapy that save them from disability or death. This made Boehringer Ingelheim interfere by launching the Angels Initiative in 2016, building a global community of stroke centers and stroke ready hospitals. Now, Cam-Tu Vo, who currently works as a stroke care manager, is both on a professional and personal mission: “I want to give stroke patients a second chance at life.”


Changing the doctors’ mind

In Vietnam, the Angels Initiative started in early 2017. To save as many patients as possible from death or disability, the Boehringer Ingelheim initiative strives both to create more stroke units and to make better use of the existing ones by improving their processes and providing them with innovative health care solutions. “Stroke patients need to be treated as early as possible to recover well,” Cam-Tu Vo points out.

To really make an impact with the Angels Initiative, educating the doctors who treat the patients has been a major challenge. According to Vo, creating a stroke unit means way more than merely providing doctors with medication. “It is about changing their mind. Physicians working in an intensive care unit are extremely busy and thus it can be very challenging for them to find their time to change their work routine at first.” Because of this, it was important to discuss the Angels Initative with the doctors repeatedly. This effort turned out to be more than worth it, though: “In 2017 we were working with 10 stroke units – now it’s more than 40!”


Discovering one’s own purpose

Cam-Tu Vo also had to surpass other obstacles than convincing doctors, though. “One of the stroke care specialists in my team left, but I eventually got even two new ones which gave us the opportunity to expand our activities.” But after all, what kept inspiring her was the phenomenal outcome for the patients: “More than 4,000 stroke patients have been saved so far in Vietnam!”

For Vo, learning with an open mind throughout the launch of the Angels Initiative in Vietnam has meant discovering her own purpose. Having experienced the loss of her uncle that was due to stroke, she now helped to save thousands of other lives. Or how Cam-Tu Vo puts it herself: “With the Angels Initiative, being a stroke care manager is not only my job any more but also my personal mission.”

"With the Angels Initiative, being a stroke care manager is not only my job any more but also my personal mission, says Cam-Tu Vo. "
Michael Eppelmann

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