Best practices


#Covid-19 and EoC - Portugal, experiencing "trust”

Portuguese entrepreneurs Cristina and Carlos Marques were the founders of the polyclinic “Cintramédica” in Sintra in 2004, an institution that offers laboratory tests, visits and specialist examinations. This is an account of how they faced the difficulties caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

gathered by Antonella Ferrucci

"In early March, when the coronavirus situation exploded in Portugal, we lost almost all our clients overnight. For example, in the clinical testing laboratory we went from about 500 to 10 patients a day. Radiology, cardiology, dentistry and all specialist visits were fully cancelled. Those were difficult days, a very, very complicated phase. But despite the challenges, in March we were able to pay all the doctors and our more than 300 employees working in the 16 sites around the country.”

However, Cristina and Carlos still have to think about all the salaries to be paid in the upcoming months. They have been considering the possibility of closing down completely, usingCintramedica 01 rid  social shock absorbers to pay salaries. But, for the moment, they are trying to explore other solutions and have decided not to ask for subsidies, so as not to overload the state and leave this possibility to other companies with more difficulties.

There was so much fear in people and our employees to come to work. Many stayed home to protect themselves and their families, but many of those who continued to work were also very afraid. It was important to talk to everyone, to give guarantees of safety, to pay scrupulous attention to the hygiene of the working spaces. We produced some improvised visors by ourselves that were more comfortable to work with and at the same time more protective. We made information actions and improvised acrylic barriers to avoid contact between users and our collaborators. In the midst of this big race, we conveyed a message of hope for everyone, even if it was a really difficult period".

Carlos and Cristina are trying to adapt to the new conditions, trying to do everything possible to keep up the work of the many collaborators. Living in this constant suspense, one night they are unable to fall asleep, but that sleepless night makes them understand that it's time to really believe and "trust".

"It occurred to us that one possible solution was to join the network of labs that do Covid-19 tests. We knew that it was a very closed network, with only 12 private laboratories in the whole country: it seemed almost impossible to enter, also because our laboratories did not have all the necessary equipment to carry out the complete process. But we decided to try anyway and we managed to establish a collaboration with the laboratory of a state university. In this way, together, we would be able to carry out the complete analysis process, also offering greater guarantees to the State".

Carlos and Cristina's request was not accepted immediately, but later and in an almost miraculous way, Cintramédica managed to enter the national network of laboratories qualified to manage the Covid-19 swabs. Not only that: in order to remain close to its customers, on April 15th Cintramedica managed to start a new service of "video" visits.

"We "trusted"...” Cristina and Carlos conclude, "and for us it was really a strong experience of God's love, an experience of providence and faith."



Language: ENGLISH

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