MANSFIELD – Victoria Langer, CEO of Global Medical Foam, is always on her feet. Owning a successful company geared toward the medical community sends her all over the United States to learn, develop and create.
Langer knows the struggle of seeing a loved one in pain. Twenty-four years ago, her late husband Larry Robertson was diagnosed with terminal thyroid cancer. He ended up with 13 tumors on his spine.
While Robertson laid in a hospital bed at home, Langer learned her husband was at high risk for pressure injuries such as pressure ulcers and bedsores, which could result in the breakdown of the skin.
While studying to become a nurse and taking care of her husband at the same time, Langer thought of what she could do to provide him the best level of comfort and care. Using her nursing education, she developed a product to help offload the 13 tumors that metastasized to his spine.
“A few of the doctors and nurses really liked that product and asked if I could make more of them, so I did. And from there we have just grown,” Langer said.
Global Medical Foam, Inc’s products include Acute Care hospital settings, long term care and home healthcare—with specialty products in surgical suites and products such as seat cushions and fall prevention products.
Langer built a rapport with notable hospitals. Her products are sold and exported all over the world. Prior to COVID, Langer developed the Manual Prone Positioning System, which can provide up to at least 70 percent more oxygen into the lungs if proned.
The patent pending Manual Prone Positioning System quickly became a frontline product and was written into protocol for the care of the COVID patient by many hospitals across the nation.
Unfortunately, in February 2020, she had no choice but to slow down after getting a high fever for several days and felt ill for most of February.
“On March 3rd, things changed. I was working at (a hospital) and I was developing a product for the (Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit), and I had these terrible heart palpitations, shortness of breath, a lot of brain fog, and I just kind of slid down the wall,” Langer said.
Although she didn’t get tested until many months later and the results came back negative, all of Langer’s doctors believed she had COVID at that time, making her one of the very first people in the U.S. to come in contact with the virus. At the same time, she also had Giant Cell Arteritis.
Previously in October, November, and December 2020, she trained in Seattle, New Jersey and New York on a new product she developed for the ARDS patients (acute respiratory distress syndrome).
COVID soon spread throughout the country, affecting many families and skyrocketing toward an enormous worldwide death toll.
While dealing with the pandemic, Langer continued to work through her health issues stemming from a blood clot on the aorta of her heart, her spleen and her kidney, along with giant cell arteritis, which can cause a person to go blind overnight.
When Langer thinks of the word ‘courage,’ she sees it as a trait that makes people “simultaneously human and thoroughly superhuman.” Even as she worked through her treatment plan and remained in the ICU, it didn’t stop her from checking in with her team to create high-quality products for medical facilities.
“One of the driving forces for me to get stronger and leave the hospital was my family, and the company I started. I knew, and the doctors knew, the morning they came in and I was sitting in my hospital gown with IV’s everywhere in full makeup, hair combed (what hair I had left after the biopsies), laptop open and working that they were going to have a hard time keeping me down.”
As the leader who’s relied on so heavily, she’s carried a large weight on her shoulders. But during those several weeks in recovery, she couldn’t be the leader. She needed help.
“I was the owner and I've developed all these products, and (the staff) trusted me in getting them to market. But while I was bed-ridden, everything fell back on them,” Langer said.
“(My staff) worked weekends, they worked nights; they never shared with me other than everything was going well because they didn't want me to be stressed.”
Langer’s seen an incredible amount of courage this past year. From frontline workers to her staff, local banks and the Richland Area Chamber and Economic Development Board.
“To these people and the organizations, right down to Mechanics Bank employees dropping me off our PPE papers at my home, along with dinner as my white blood cell count was very low... I am grateful to all,” Langer said.
“When you look at courage at the workplace right now with the pandemic, it's about the strength of your employees but also about the strength of the community, and the courageousness of the community around us and the people.”
As she approaches 68 this year, Langer’s been asked many times when she plans to retire, but her answer continues to be “not anytime soon.” With big organizations and national companies such as Cardinal and Vizient looking her way, she wants to stay in the game for as long as she’s physically able.
“I would be so bored (if she retired), it would be horrible,” she said with a laugh. “Global Medical Foam, Inc. is growing. Helping the doctors, nurses and home care folks take better care of their patients and loved ones… that's what I've wanted. I have not wanted to grow so quickly that could place the company in jeopardy. I have been blessed with knowing many business owners I respect that have shared advice and guidance that I have drawn on over the years.”
“You've got to believe in yourself, you've got to believe in your dream, you've got to believe in achieving the goals you want for your organization. I believe.”
Mechanics Bank presents the Courage at Work series recognizing it takes incredible courage to start and run a business. As a local and independent bank, Mechanics understands that local businesses are the heartbeat of our community and would like to thank those businesses who call Richland County home.