Manifest Boston Change Maker: Anne Borden, MPH RN

Occupational Health Nurse, MilliporeSigma

Manifest Boston Change Maker Anne Borden —Manifest Boston

Annie Borden received her B.S.N. from Northeastern University, and has an MPH from Boston University. She is currently employed at the Danvers site of MilliporeSigma. Ms. Borden has worked as a nurse for over 25 years and traveled to all seven continents. Her extensive experience includes work on in the cardiology service at MGH, and her work on the trauma service, which provided her with a great understanding of what the human body is capable of withstanding, and of our capacity to heal. In recent years, Ms. Borden has developed a deep interest in tropical medicine and treating disaster victims in undeveloped countries.  She volunteered with Project Hope in 2010 to treat earthquake victims in Haiti, and provided medical and surgical care in Nicaragua, Panama and Honduras. Most recently she volunteered in Vietnam with the Pacific Partnership mission working with the US Navy and disaster planning. While working in  Antarctica for the US Antarctic Program, as the nurse administrator, she coordinated healthcare for the US stations, taught disaster preparedness and facilitated medical evacuations.  Antarctica is where she first saw the positive effect of occupational health nursing on a worksite population. Locally Ms. Borden has worked as an occupational health nurse at a nuclear facility in an industry that is one of the most highly regulated in the world.

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Lindsay Gearheart: Tell me about your background and what brought you to MilliporeSigma.

Anne Borden: My background is in nursing and public health. I’ve worked in hospitals, emergency rooms and industrial workplace settings like my current role as occupational health nurse at MilliporeSigma’s Life Science Center in Danvers, Massachusetts.  I have also volunteered and worked all over the world from Antarctica to disaster zones in the United States, Haiti, West Africa, and India.  I’ve always managed to find a workplace that’s vibrant and exciting

What’s been really exciting about my role today is that it’s really the perfect job and where my professional and volunteer experience comes together. My focus is on the health and safety of the site’s workforce – this is something I first saw in Antarctica, where the focus is on prevention of illness or injury occurring in a harsh environment. While we have a great environment here at Danvers and MilliporeSigma as a whole, our employees typically work in manufacturing roles and this presents some unique challenges to meet their needs and safety requirements. 

Public health is fascinating, to see the simple measures put into practice.  Ebola gave the world an idea of how a devastating disease can spread.  The Covid-19 virus gave us all pandemic experience.  I was always fascinated with how effective quarantine worked in the building of the Panama Canal, a project almost abandoned because the workforce became so ill with malaria and yellow fever.  The opportunity to work through a pandemic and to watch critical products be built, it’s very challenging.  

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At MilliporeSigma, we are helping to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic with products and solutions which empower our customers and scientists to detect and analyze viruses and to develop vaccines and therapies. As a global life science tools and equipment supplier, we are committed to providing the necessary research tools and reagents, diagnostic products, therapy manufacturing products and vaccine development products that can aid the global scientific effort to fight this novel virus. Along with this, the company’s top priority has been the safety and well-being of its employees. 

I have really enjoyed working for a company that values and appreciates diversity in the workplace, is focused on the wellbeing of employees and is committed to accelerating access to health for all. The leadership team at our facility is also very strong and supportive and that really makes a difference. The staff is engaged and connected, even when they are working opposite shifts. 

LG: As someone working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, how are you staying hopeful and positive?

AB: I have been able to maintain hope and positivity during this unprecedented time with the help of our entire staff. This community at our site in Danvers consists of 600 employees who hold a strong, family-like bond. The site director knows each employee by name and understands the dynamics of both family and personal health. Sharing such strong connections makes it easier for us to help one another. Having this support has enhanced all aspects of our site. From the essential manufacturing workers to the cafeteria staff making snacks and lunches to our housekeeping team, the whole site has been able to pull together. 

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Our management team has also contributed greatly to our success this far. Management does not fail to allow employees to know that they count. In my eyes, you can do anything with a great leadership team. Supervisors are constantly building up employees and inspiring them by reminding them that they are working on mission-critical products. They have such strong communication, creative ideas, and an overwhelming willingness to do the most for their staff. MilliporeSigma has responded in such a positive way and the company’s efforts during this pandemic reflect greatly on its mission to solve the toughest problems in life science. This has been incredibly motivating personally, and to our employees. 

The most rewarding part of it all is that we are a part of manufacturing the critical parts in supporting a global public health response. Our product line and efforts are going to make a difference. Overall, there is a sense of encouragement across the entire company. We have received so many beautiful cards from other MilliporeSigma sites encouraging us for our work and perseverance.  These small acts of togetherness are what allow us to continue to be motivated and inspire hope. 

LG: From your work with trauma service, what have you learned about the resilience of our bodies and our communities?

AB: The immune system is amazing; it protects us from so many enemies including viruses. Our bodies were built to be resilient, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help to boost our own body’s resilience. Do everything you can, really all the things your parents told you, like “wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, get plenty of rest, eat well, exercise,” etc. Just doing these basic things can help keep you healthy, not just during this pandemic, but also throughout your daily life.

Resilience is also survival. People will survive, mentally physically and spiritually, but it requires a collective team effort to keep everyone motivated and to provide extra support when the situation requires it. A community is not just the area or neighborhood where you live or where you’re from. We all belong to many different communities based on where we work, where our children go to school, etc. 

Our community in Danvers may be small, but our employees genuinely care about each other. Because of this connection, our employees would share stories of what they were going through and that allowed us to help them, not just as a medical professional or manager, but person to person. MilliporeSigma has been very generous with support designed to assist employees affected by the pandemic. However, we also found on a local level, our community is so tight that many employees wanted to be there for each other and help each other.

LG: How have your volunteer efforts impacted the way you approach your work these days?

AB: Volunteering is humbling. With scarce resources you are inspired to be creative. It teaches you about flexibility and the importance of teamwork. Being a good volunteer also makes you aware of all the diversity we have in the world — we are all different but have the same needs — so you have to customize your approach to the individual. You learn to say yes to requests that may be out of your comfort zone or your exact field of expertise.

I have volunteered in many disaster zones following big events like earthquakes and hurricanes. In 2010, I was in Haiti following the earthquake, and I was in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017. I’ve also been all over the U.S. and I have worked in Antarctica as well. The one thing you notice is that as bad as it gets, there is always a sense that it will get better. Turbulence always gets better.  Or, in the case of Antarctica, you learn that people are willing to help, and everyone is willing to take on tasks and do what needs to get done in order to help everyone else. This feeling of hope is what drives you.

I’ve taken what I’ve learned from all of these situations and used this emergency response experience right here at our site in Danvers during the pandemic. For example, a pre-entry screening process requires resources. We had to be creative, so we trained our emergency response team members, who are all employees themselves, to check temperatures at our door screening procedure. And of course, we’re a global company, so we could call another site and share resources. We were able to learn from colleagues in China, France and Germany, what was working and what we might want to consider implementing from their learnings. With good communication skills and by being resourceful you can succeed.  

LG: What can we, who aren’t on the front lines, learn from what you’re seeing with this pandemic?

AB: This virus may be here, but we can have confidence in our science and technology. Science and data can protect employees, communities and families. We have data from other countries who have already been through this. We also have some of the best companies and top scientists in the world working together, across borders who are using science and sharing their data to find a treatment or vaccine, at a speed never seen. Science will help us find the answers.

On another level, the ways in which I have been watching caring manifest itself throughout this pandemic has been inspiring and it’s what is going to help people get through this. I’ve watched our employees lift each other up and support each other throughout this difficult time and I have no doubt that this is occurring on different levels all over the place. And it’s not only occurring on an individual level. We also see cities, states and corporations like MilliporeSigma working together as partners to solve the toughest problems – from leading efforts to protect essential workers to donating personal protective equipment, and even working together as partners to support efforts in the race to create a vaccine. Everyone can do something to help get us through this pandemic if they care about each other.


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