Medtronic creates havens for employees in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria
October 9, 2017 – Diana DeJesus can’t pack fast enough.
Normally a nurse at the Medtronic facility in Ponce, Puerto Rico, today she’s an onsite grocery worker, packing boxes of food for co-workers who need help in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
“They’re friends, they’re family. We’ve been working together for so long, we’re family,” she said and then paused to fight back tears. “It makes me feel good that I can be here to help,” she said.
DeJesus and a team of Medtronic employees are packing large boxes of food for fellow employees hit hardest by the hurricane.
Many of them, like Emelio Plaza, lost everything.
When I needed it most, Medtronic was there to help me,” Plaza said as he rolled the big box of food and a case of water to his truck. “I’m very grateful.”
On much of Puerto Rico, electricity is still non-existent. Water is hard to come by. Food isn’t always available either.
“We want our facility to be an oasis for employees,” said Nayda Melendez, senior manager of human resources at Medtronic in Ponce. “They are our top priority. Our generators are running. We have power. We are doing everything we can to provide for our workers. They need us.”
Medtronic in Ponce is offering workers many of the things they can’t get at home. Employees can receive free meals three times a day, served by volunteer co-workers. Employees can get cash if they need it through an onsite credit union, now open for business. There are public computer stations so employees can reach loved ones and connect to the outside world. Volunteers handed out 20 pallets of bottled water in a single day, along with all kinds of food, ice and several dozen power generators.
We want our facility to be an oasis for employees. They are our top priority.Nayda Melendez, Medtronic Sr. Human Resources Manager in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
“This is a great idea,” said Dennis Ramirez as he dumped a giant load of dirty clothes into a washing machine. Medtronic turned a large meeting room into a free laundromat, where workers can wash and dry their clothes. “It feels so good to wear clean clothes again. It’s been two weeks without power and none of us could do laundry, until now.”
The company has also set up portable showers for employees and a doctor visits twice a week to see workers who might need medical care. Medtronic is also providing help filling out FEMA’s emergency relief paperwork.
In the days immediately after the storm, many employees showed up for work even though the facility was closed, to help in the clean-up effort. That work is paying off; Medtronic is beginning production again at Ponce.
It makes Mirna Cruz happy. Neighbors sent her video they took the night of the hurricane, showing the 150 mile winds rip the roof from her house. Cruz and her family survived, huddled in the lower level. Despite no roof and no power, she rejoined her co-workers on the production line. “We’re here to help people,” she said. “They need these products. That’s why I came back. That’s why we all came back.”