While crisis polarizes, it also forces commonality of mission.
For leaders in the post-acute care community, that shared mission is the delivery of safe and effective care, no matter the circumstances. To aid these leaders in sharing their experiences delivering care during COVID-19, Netsmart hosted the CEO Post-Acute ExecCONNECT, a round-table discussion that created space for industry leaders to lead and learn, ask and answer.
Below are some of the highlights of what executives are doing to lead their organizations through COVID-19.
Although Personal-Touch Home Care is a multi-state organization, eight of its office locations are in New York. When the first case of COVID-19 was identified 20 miles from one of these offices, CEO Rob Caione knew the organization needed to take immediate action to mobilize and virtualize.
In the week following the identification of that first case, all eight New York offices went remote. To achieve this, Personal-Touch Home Care ensured payroll and accounts payable could be managed remotely, tightened the focus on cash and guaranteed that all core functions could be completed virtually. While this, in itself, was an incredible feat for an organization of 8,000, Personal-Touch Home Care would now need to start delivering care amid COVID-19.
Virtualizing the workforce demanded a quick response, but to deliver safe, quality care during a pandemic requires ongoing conversation. For Caione, “communication is key,” so he has established daily phone calls with his team, who then disseminate that information among the rest of the workforce. By establishing clear lines of communication, Personal-Touch Home Care can educate clinicians on personal protection equipment (PPE) usage and CDC guidelines. This connectivity goes both ways, as Personal-Touch Home Care ensures reciprocity in communication, guaranteeing clinicians anytime access to a point-of-contact at the now-virtual home office.
For Caione and Personal-Touch Home Care, inter-communication is vital as staff are now remote. However, as virtual becomes the new normal, it is intra-communication that aids the agency in adapting to the regulations and requirements that dictate care delivery. By attending seminars and webinars, Caione is able to keep abreast of the ever-evolving state of care, as well as finding unity in shared purpose among the post-acute community.
Across the country in California, Lynda Tanner, President & CEO of VNA Health, also harnesses the power of communication to ensure her organization keeps pace with the shifting terrain of care in Santa Barbara County. Tanner has tri-weekly phone calls with the health department that provide guidance regarding infection, legislation and regulations.
In addition to calls with the health department, VNA Health has established daily virtual standups attended by all organizational leaders. These conversations ensure that knowledge isn’t siloed, allowing public information officers to synthesize critical information and send out daily email blasts to all staff at all levels to keep them informed. This step is critical as the available information is evolving rapidly. “It's not the same guidance as it was,” noted Tanner. “It's a whole different day out there.”
To meet that new-dawning day, VNA Health widened the lens on traditional PPE, purchasing goggles from home-improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot, and instructing staff on proper cleaning methods for reusability. VNA Health also looked to their community for aid, seeking donations from restaurants and other businesses. VNA Health diligently archives all incoming PPE, providing exact records of inventory, as well as burn rate, ensuring awareness of any decreased supply.
Although VNA Health and Personal-Touch Home Care have varying needs, they’ve fulfilled those needs with the same strategy. By opening previously capped lines of communication, both organizations have been able to reorganize to deliver quality care during crisis.
While this lesson may seem intuitive, too often we deprioritize the need for transparent communication. The leaders shared a key tenant: As we enter this new dawn of healthcare, it is imperative that we, as a community, recall the vitality of communication in times of crisis, remembering that connective channels must be maintained and nurtured in order to satisfy our shared purpose of delivering quality care.
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