With forty years of experience, Hospice of Washington County is no stranger to change. As COVID-19 impeded traditional modes of care, Hospice of Washington County embraced innovation and recalibration, pivoting practices to ensure low risk of infection, while providing the same standard of care synonymous with the organization.
To support staff along this uneven terrain, Hospice of Washington County first looked to increase communication, sharing an abundance of information regarding policies and procedures. Hospice of Washington County shared the ‘why’ behind decisions made, the ‘what’ behind new protocols.
“People felt confident and comfortable, said Ernesto Lopez, chief executive officer. “They had a lot of great questions and really good points that made us go back and think “this needs to be retailored.”” This collaborative mentality was echoed in a recent town hall meeting that saw nearly 100% participation from attendees. This level of communication doesn’t exist in a vacuum; Lopez noted that this connectivity has been replicated in the experiences staff are providing to families as they conduct care virtually.
In addition to these communication avenues, Hospice of Washington County debuted a vlog with comedic undertones and is launching a text message initiative to share vital information and words of encouragement. Outside of digital strategies the organization’s leadership is committed to maintaining connection with staff, sending handwritten notes and birthday tidings. While the modes may be different than their pre-pandemic counterparts, the message remains the same: “We care for our staff,” said Lopez. “We want to continue to engage and keep them engaged in our organization.”
As employees continue to work from home, Lopez also stressed the importance of eliminating traditional models for productivity assessment. “Trust your staff, he said. “Think about productivity in a different way. Are your patients getting what they need? Are you experiencing service shortfalls? Those are the measurables I would use to see if I am holding my staff and our team accountable.”
Collaboratively, all of these measures yielded an impressive outcome: Washington County Hospice experienced virtually no staff turnover during the pandemic. This statistic assured the organization what they already knew; staff were engaged and receptive to change, always ready to act in the best interest of their patients.
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