Bristol-Myers Squibb + BIPAI = An Unexpected Day

So, I was sitting in the clinic in Treatment 2, my “home-base”, on Wednesday doing what I usually do when one of the nurses asked me if I was going to the meeting that afternoon. I had no idea what she was talking about, and when I asked, she said that the BMS people were coming that day.  “Hmmm” I thought, “I’ve never heard Baylor referred to as BMS. And why would they be here again this week after their visit last week?” I was enlightened a few hours later when another nurse told me that the Bristol-Myers Squibb people were here. I felt smart. So anyway, I went out to the front waiting room and saw Prof, Mma Mapula, and all the other heads of the clinic lined up. Kinda confusing. Amongst the nervous chatter, I discovered that Lamberto Andreotti, the Executive Vice President and COO of Worldwide Pharmaceuticals was visiting. BMS has a foundation called Secure the Future which provides a large chunk of the funds for BIPAI, and this envoy was traveling to many of the COEs in southern Africa to see how their funds were being used. Considering that I had rolled out of bed that morning and put on the first thing I could find in the dark, I decided to go hide myself upstairs, for the good of the clinic. I chatted with one of the women in the envoy (I can’t remember her name!) from Texas Children’s Hospital while we were both hiding from the ruckus downstairs. She was telling me all about Swaziland, where they had flown from this morning on BMS’s private jet, and about how tiring the past few days have been. As I was getting her set up for some much-needed time on the internet, the rest of the envoy burst into our hiding spot, the computer lab upstairs. As I turned around, I found myself face-to-face with Mr. Andreotti and the president of BIPAI, Dr. Mark Kline. Oops. I figured it was a good time not to say something stupid, so I just quickly introduced myself and got out of the way, but not before Mr. Andreotti started asking what I did at Baylor. I attempted to be articulate and to make BIPAI look as amazing as it actually is, which is kinda difficult in front of the primary donor for everything around you and the “big boss” (Dr. Kline). Dr. Kline seemed pleased with my response, so I’m good with that.

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Later, after a long meeting in the conference room at the COE, Dr. Kline, having heard that Rachel and I didn’t know about that night’s dinner at the Gab Sun, invited us! So, the Gab Sun is like the posh spot in Gabs and is one of the things Gabs is known for. We got cleaned up as best we could that night with the clothes we had and made the 2-minute walk to the Sun. After wandering around for a while, we finally found the right area, but our way was blocked by a greeting line. I didn’t know if we were suppoesd to go through, so I just kinda tried to get a better view of who was in the line and realized I recognized no one. Oops. Luckily, the woman from Texas Children’s I had been talking with earlier in the day showed up at that point and led us in the right direction, explaining to us that there were several parties at the same time and that we shouldn’t recognize anybody in the greeting line. Whew. It was great to see everybody from clinic all dressed up! The food was absolutely amazing that night–raw salmon (fish in Botswana??), beef, a cooked onion, a tomato stuffed with mushrooms, and a sweet potato. We even got to meet the Minister of Health! The night was amazing and unexpected; we were just planning to go home, run, and eat rice and beans after clinic–not go to a formal dinner. I’m not complainin’!

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