The COVID-19 crises shine a light on how healthcare heroes are tied to their purpose
This Crisis is Different
On 9/11, I was working at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and immediately felt compassion and a sense of helplessness for the loss of lives.
But this crisis is different than any others. Each day now, it is dangerous for healthcare workers across our country to simply go to work. Yet, we are all adapting to keep our teams safe and ensure our hospitals are clean and receive the support and resources that they need.
In some ways, it’s been challenging for me. As other healthcare leaders know, we like to be in the field, meeting with our clients, and working with our teams. Now must completely trust our teams without much onsite corporate support – and they are over-delivering throughout the country just as expected.
Healthcare Heroes Are Tied to Their Purpose
I’ve been reminded several times in recent weeks how our teams are intrinsically motivated. They have a sense of purpose that is unmatched.
We have Regional Directors driving to suppliers to pick up needed cleaning products. Onsite managers are cleaning patient rooms and transporting staff to different hospitals when they need to reallocate resources. They are doing everything that is required to support their hospitals and teams.
We’ve recently reached out to our teams and asked if any of our managers would provide support to our New York hospitals due to the shortage of managers/staff caused by exposure to the coronavirus.
Multiple people from across the company have raised their hands and volunteered to go and support our fellow teams. One leader that offered his assistance was a frontline supervisor in Joplin, Missouri. This manager has likely never left his small community before, let alone travel to New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic.
But he chose to support because he recognizes the need and feels that it is his calling to do so. It never ceases to amaze me how our people will do whatever is necessary to help our people in any and in every way possible. And we know that other parts of the country would do the same exact thing for us. That is the power of the people in this organization.
Another example of the team’s heroics happened at a hospital we serve in Ohio. In one day, eighty percent of our management team was quarantined due to the potential exposure to the virus. So, what happened? One of our managers that was working at another hospital across the state heard about the need, finished his shift, then drove four hours to work the next shift at that hospital. That is the dedication, passion, and commitment that our people have for our company and their coworkers. And it is happening everywhere in our company, across the country.
One last example was a text exchange I had with our director at large in a Minneapolis hospital. His father had recently passed away, and I was expressing our condolences for his loss. He thanked me for the note, then immediately informed me how he was preparing the hospital for the potential surge in patients. He assured me that they would be ready for the surge. His response humbled me.
Be Intentional About Connecting and Communicating
Accurate and constant communication is imperative during this crisis. Since many of us can’t physically be with our teams, communication has become a top priority. There is so much information as we develop policies and best practices, that accuracy and timeliness are critical.
Staying connected with our teams and clients is also very important. One method to stay connected is by sending daily messages to our managers at each hospital. My personal goal is to send out 10 messages each day. We need to let them know how much we appreciate them, their staff and their incredible commitment. Equally important is letting them know that we are thinking of them.
In one case, a hospital client stressed how impressed they were with one of our onsite leaders and his cleaning staff. They went on to say how amazed that they were when this manager consistently jumped in with the frontline staff to clean and sanitize rooms, always leading by example. I called the manager to thank him and share the client’s praise for his work but wasn’t able to reach him initially. When he called back, he was literally panting on the phone, moving from one place to the next with fantastic urgency. Sometimes it’s hard to fathom how hard our teams are working. Although it was a brief conversation, it gave me a better understanding on what he has been going through daily and magnified our compassion for the situations of our teams.
Our clients are also reaching out on social media to show their appreciation. The executive director of emergency and trauma services at the University of Chicago Medical Center posted photos of our EVS team on LinkedIn with this message: “These men and women are amazing! The EVS staff in the Adult and Pediatric Emergency Departments @UC Medicine are our unsung heroes! Without them we could not do the work we do.”
Leaders, we understand the sacrifices our team are making. We need to find every opportunity to encourage and recognize our people for going beyond all expectations. Our associates will continue to be on the front lines battling this crisis, day after day, for the next several weeks and months. We need to support them.