How I Work

How I Work From Home: The pandemic work diary of a doctor fighting the coronavirus with tech

April 20, 2020 · 4 min read
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How I Work

How I Work is a weekly series that seeks to uncover work habits of the most productive people; how they use the internet and technology to drive global or industry-wide impact.

You may know her as the Flying doctor but at a time when most flights are grounded and the whole world is at war with an elusive enemy, COVID-19, Dr Ola Brown has stationed herself on the frontline, fortified with essential weapons — technology and resolve — to resist its spread.

Dr Brown founded the Flying Doctors Healthcare Investment Group which has expanded over the past years through investments in pharmaceutical retail, health tech, diagnostics, medical equipment supply and construction.

As the founder, Dr Brown has been actively involved in setting up isolation and testing centres, providing equipment like ventilators to help infected Nigerians and, with her air ambulance team, continues to facilitate emergency transport across the world.

In this first ‘pandemic edition’ of How I Work, she walks us, in vivid detail, through a recent day working with the government in the battle against the coronavirus, while adhering to social distancing rules and working mostly from home.

Current roles: Founder, Flying Doctors Healthcare Investment Group; and Director, Greentree Investment Company.

Location: Across Nigeria.

Describe how you work in one word: Passionately.

Tuesday, April 14

6:00 a.m. Woke up for Yoga (40 mins).

7:00 a.m. Early morning conference call on Zoom with aviation stakeholders talking about local and international transportation of COVID-19 positive and COVID-19 negative patients.

7:45 a.m.
Another conference call to review operations at the molecular lab for COVID-19 testing that we installed and support for a state. Everything is perfect. So glad that I have a team that is execution focused. Takes a massive burden off of me.

9:30 a.m. Concerned about how COVID-19 could potentially affect smaller states like Ekiti: my state of origin. After revising the minutes of the last meeting of the Ekiti State COVID-19 resource mobilisation committee this morning, I decided to give a personal donation. Picked up an emergency ventilator from my office to donate to Ekiti on behalf of the Flying Doctors Healthcare Group. Will take with me to the site today and drop off with the team on my way home.

10:30 a.m.
I was at the almost 100-bed Eti-Osa Isolation centre which I helped build, fund and recruit for as a YPO member in collaboration with Lagos State. This is at the Landmark Centre in Eti-Osa one of the hardest-hit areas of Lagos with regard to COVID-19 infections. I spent some time watching the training and was also glad to see that our air filters had been delivered to the intensive care unit.

1:59 p.m. Quick stop at Lifestores Pharmacy, one of our portfolio companies, to discuss how their state-wide home delivery project for drugs is working. This is essential for people with chronic and acute diseases during a lockdown.

Lifestores has also partnered with telemedicine services offered by companies like Doctoora Health to deliver medicines to patients across Lagos.

2:20 p.m. Now in the car with horrific connection, but managed to complete another Zoom meeting with the other team members leading the Eti- Osa Isolation centre effort. 

2:30 p.m. Now starting another online meeting with my team at the Flying Doctors Healthcare Investment Group. But it’s on Google Hangouts. I have no idea why they prefer it to Zoom.

2:35 p.m. I am hungry. I haven’t eaten since yesterday night. Except for the Ribena I bought at Lifestores. And this Google Hangouts is making my face look unnecessarily round. Which is why I prefer Zoom. It gives me a better facial aesthetic. The team is busy co-coordinating multiple medical transports, delivering hundreds of pieces of medical equipment/consumables like oxygen/PPE/patient monitors etc, and also consulting on several ICU projects across the country. All is going well and on schedule, but I am still hungry. Craving Pounded yam with Edo or Seafood Okro with juicy Prawns. 

3:45 p.m. I wanted Pounded Yam but one cannot have everything that one wants in this life. So I have settled for rice.

6:35 p.m. Final stop this evening is the factory. The World Health Organization’s famous mantra for managing the COVID-19 outbreak is ‘testing, testing, testing!’. 

Whilst we have installed a molecular lab and we know that labs are part of the bottleneck, we also know that some of the labs aren’t even getting enough samples. These are the first (that I know of) mobile testing booths in Nigeria.

We have been constructing them for our work outside Lagos where we know that drive-through solutions wouldn’t work optimally because many don’t drive. We have high demand, work will continue till later in the evening and some of the factory team have security concerns.

Onsite accommodation has been provided for them. So many people from different professions are working to build capacity and fight this COVID-19 war. Ramping up testing facilities and access is a major objective for us. Check out one of the artisans behind the scenes making it all happen.

6:47 p.m.
 I have an 8 p.m. Zoom call and I want to do some yoga before that. I always take my 8 p.m. Zoom meeting in my yoga room. It happens every day to discuss isolation centres. 

7:48 p.m. I just had possibly the best Snail that I have ever tasted in my life, with some regular tasting sweet potato. Zoom call in 10 mins.

11:28 p.m. And the day ends how it started. I have a few documents to review and a project to submit. But all my deadlines, priorities and concerns go into a box whilst I take the next 20 mins to breathe. 

This work diary was republished from Twitter with Dr Ola Brown’s permission and has been condensed and edited.

Samuel Okike

Samuel Okike


I write about media, technology and internet culture.

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