A couple of days, 8 MaxStations, 1 Program Officer and 1 Region Head: my take on the Latam MaxStation meeting

I had the great pleasure of spending 2 productive days with
the full Max Latam team last week in Buenos Aires. Ines had organized this
annual training for the region and I was glad to be invited to participate in 2
of the 4 meeting days. Day 1 was spent on presentations from most of the
MaxStations; Day 2 a few more presentations, an AE training from Ann, and my
presentation to the team.
Here are some of the highlights of what I learned:
My first meaningful experience happened as soon as I walked
into the office. I saw a framed puzzle on the wall with a nice plaque thanking
Ines for something. Ines was quick to share that some years ago, with the support
of Erin, we had managed to get a donation of a drug needed by a young man in
Chile; he was 19 or 20 years old with a rare cancer. He had to spend many days
in the hospital on those days, and he would pass time by making puzzles. Ines
shared that years later this young patient died, and his parents, in gratitude
for what we had done to help him, framed one of the puzzles and gave it to
Ines. As in all our offices, it is often in our walls that one finds the best
indicators of the impact of our work.
I found all the presentations very interesting. Each
MaxStation showed that they are well positioned in their countries, well
respected by physicians and patient groups, and all, except one country in
which we are having challenges, have managed to develop good relationships
with our local sponsor (aka local Novartis). Most of these teams are involved
in a Novartis access program, so this was a big topic of discussion.
All of them told remarkable patient stories, in passing,
seemingly unaware of the great importance of those experiences. For them, it is
everyday work. The complexity of stigma, patients who do not know their
diagnosis; a family where the father is unaware of the diagnosis of the child,
so if you call and the father answers the phone you must make up a story of why
you are calling; children in charge of siblings treatment control, etc etc.
Those of you close to patients understand. those of us further away crave all small details.
I was very pleased to learn that Mercedes (Latam PO) is well
on her way to meet her goal for this year of delegating work to her
MaxStations: I learned that she had already passed on each country patient
group relationship to each MaxStation. Way to go Mercedes! Delegating is not
easy for anyone, especially for those really good at what they do, like
Mercedes. However we all have confidence that each MaxStation is quite capable
of producing good quality work.
Some of you know that ‘Day by Day’ is an adherence program
developed by Ines and being implemented in the region now in 4 countries:
Chile, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Argentina (under the label of CML
Alliance). The structure of the program is the same in all countries, although
the program is adapted to each situation. The program has two core components:
phone calls to the patients for check-ins and tracking of medication, PCR, etc,
and gifts that are sent to participants as an incentive to stay adherent to
their treatment. Ines remarked that there are more than 800 patients among all
4 countries. The team had 2 goals related to this: learn from each other’s
lessons learned, and streamlining the data collection so we can compare and
report the information from the region as a whole.
Day by Day is a program with great potential; it is sponsored
in each country by industry. On our side I know that Mercedes has been working
with Mike and his team (IT Solutions) to develop a specific tracking system for
this program.
I also learned that these guys (Latam team) are pretty great
at Adverse Event reporting. Legend is that Evelyn, MaxStation Central America
based in Guatemala, had seen an AE come through in the middle of the night, and
couldn’t go back to sleep until she logged it, so she got up in the middle of
the night to log it. That legend, which has been proven true, tells me two
things: that she checks her email in the middle of the night (one of ‘us’), and
also that she understands the importance of reporting AEs in a timely manner.
Way to go Evelyn!
Well, I also learned that one must be prepared for a very
hard core gift exchange in any Latam meeting, as well as having the conference
table permanently covered by delicious food and sweets from the region.
I did make my pitch for more Parsblog participation from the
team, so let’s see if they listened to me.
A few photos follow from my humble phone:

Mercedes, the smart, dedicated, PO for the region

Oh yes, the selfie
Vicky, CML Alliance Argentina; GIPAP Ecuador and Peru, giving her presentation

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