Living Our ICARE Values Through Calm and Crisis

For two decades, McKesson employees have exemplified our shared values in all they do



Read time: 5 minutes

They say true character reveals itself during times of great adversity. If ever there’s been a time that epitomizes the latter, it’s now.

As COVID-19 has severely damaged the health of our communities – both physically and financially – other natural disasters have tacked onto the devastation, from last year’s uncontrollable wildfires and record-breaking hurricane season to last month’s winter storms that hindered millions of Americans’ access to critical utilities and care.

When faced with insurmountable challenges that test even the most resilient among us, it’s easy to put self before others. But that’s not how McKesson employees operate. No matter the number or severity of obstacles standing in our way, addressing the needs of patients everywhere has always remained priority number one.

So it’s particularly timely that this year marks the 20th anniversary of McKesson implementing its ICARE values.

ICARE stands for Integrity, Customer-First, Accountability, Respect and Excellence. Two decades ago, McKesson’s leadership team created this core set of values to guide our employees as we set out to be one of the most respected and innovative leaders in healthcare. But our ICARE values are far more than a shared philosophy – they’re part of our DNA.

Today, ICARE is foundational to every action and decision we make, both as a company and as the individuals dedicated to fulfilling our company’s mission. It influences the kinds of people we hire. It impacts the business priorities we establish. And, it elevates how we treat and support our customers, our communities and one another every day, through every situation. Unified behind these values, our employees have braved periods of adversity to be the partner that our customers can count on when they need us most.

And that’s especially been true the past 12 months.

Leading Through the Pandemic’s Early Days

When COVID-19 hit our country in March 2020, few knew just how far-reaching its impact would be or how long the pandemic would last. After news of this new virus first emerged in late 2019, McKesson employees went to work preparing for potential supply shortages. And in those first days following lockdowns in the U.S., McKesson employees further sprang into action to help our healthcare customers handle the new challenges ahead.

When PPE supply became scarce early in the pandemic, our McKesson Medical-Surgical team moved quickly allocate available supplies, such as masks and gloves, to our customers. Our teams also worked with the U.S. government on Project Airbridge to bring additional PPE into the country more quickly. And throughout those early months, more than 1,000 drivers worked around the clock to deliver life-saving medications and critical supplies to hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and nursing homes on time.

Many pharmacists also found themselves on the frontlines of this new global healthcare crisis – especially those in rural and underserved areas who are sometimes the only healthcare practitioners available to serve patients.

In just a few weeks, a cross-functional McKesson team jumped in to help pharmacists at several Health Mart locations – a franchise network of independent, locally owned pharmacies supported by McKesson – to continue delivering care.

A Health Mart pharmacist administers a COVID-19 test to a patient.

A Health Mart pharmacist administers a COVID-19 test to a patient.

“Our team not only checked in with our pharmacies more frequently and provided them with valuable resources to adjust their operations, but also provided training modules for how to safely administer and process COVID-19 tests,” says Nancy Lyons, BSPharm, MBA, CDE, Chief Pharmacist at Health Mart. “Ultimately, McKesson’s assistance helped our pharmacists play a vital role in maintaining the health of their communities during this tumultuous time.”

Going Above and Beyond, Even When It’s Not Easy

While the work we’ve done to help customers and patients during the pandemic magnifies how we live our ICARE values, there are countless examples of employees going the extra mile for our customers every day. Sometimes literally.

In mid-February, back-to-back winter storms Uri and Viola blanketed 73% of the mainland U.S. in snow and ice, leaving millions without electricity and water, crippling infrastructure, and bringing delivery services nationwide to a grinding halt. Despite the odds stacked against them, our distribution center (DC) employees doubled down on bringing life-saving medications to patients right on time.

When several shipments of cancer therapies destined for clinics across hard-hit Texas were grounded, employees at our Memphis, Tenn. DC decided to deliver them to the customers themselves. Despite having only 10% of their full staff available, the team rented a tractor trailer, packed and loaded the therapies into the truck, and made the icy trek from Tennessee to Texas, where they delivered the medications just in time for the clinics to treat their patients. It took the team just over a day to fulfill the entire mission from start to finish.

Later that week, that same team rushed to help a little boy in critical need of an infusion drug to treat hemophilia B – a condition that prevents blood from properly clotting. When a pharmacy in New York reached out with an emergency request for the medication, the team expedited four vials to the customer, not only saving the boy a trip to the hospital, but possibly helping save his life as well.

Employees at McKesson’s Memphis, Tenn. distribution center work to fulfill orders in the aftermath of February’s winter storms

Employees at McKesson’s Memphis, Tenn. distribution center work to fulfill orders in the aftermath of February’s winter storms.

The inclement conditions caused by the storms also presented safety challenges in delivering COVID-19 vaccines, forcing a lockdown on our vaccine distribution operations. In the week following the storms, our teams rallied to not only make up for the orders that didn’t go out, but to meet new ones as well. Volunteers also joined the effort, working overnight to help get the job done. Ultimately, these teams shipped more than 7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in just 48 hours.

It’s through acts like these that we’re reminded of the profound impact our work can have on those we serve. Yet it’s not uncommon to hear employees leading these efforts claim they were simply doing their jobs. That’s because McKesson employees truly embody all that our ICARE values stand for, regardless of the magnitude of the task at hand. They don’t think twice about doing what’s right. They place customers before convenience. They choose excellence before ease.

And during ICARE’s 20th year, our employees proved that these values don’t just guide us during both the good times and the bad – they bring out the absolute best in us in all we do, every day.