How 3 academic medical centers have reached out to community, backed employees during COVID-19

Throughout the pandemic, healthcare facilities and health systems should guarantee staff members feel supported as they battle COVID-19, and, at the same time, make sure the communities they serve feel safe receiving care throughout a public health crisis..

A panel of health specialists talked about how their organizations have actually tackled these problems during a session at the Academic Medical Centers Virtual Forum Sept. 25. The panelists were David Entwistle, president and CEO of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Stanford Health Care; Mark Miller, CFO and treasurer of UNC Health Care in Chapel Hill, N.C.; and Therese Hudson-Jinks, MSN, RN, senior vice president and CNO, chief client experience officer of Tufts Medical Center in Boston. Kelly Gooch, senior writer/reporter at Beckers Healthcare, moderated the panel.

Here is an excerpt from the discussion, a little edited for clarity. To view the full session on-demand, click here..

Kelly Gooch –
Friday, September 25th, 2020
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Concern: How has your company got neighborhood trust and supported workers amidst the pandemic?

When we talk about vaccine trials and the like, weve got to get out into the communities that the African-American, the Latinx neighborhoods, the locations that are hit very hard by this infection, and get those folks into some of these trials so that we can have an excellent, broad spectrum of folks that are in that. And that requires a level of trust and self-confidence, working with community leaders and churches and whatnot, and taking the testing out to the people in the neighborhoods. We actually went through and tested all of our employees to make sure that we might tell the neighborhood, “This is a safe environment to come into.”.

Therese Hudson-Jinks: The reaction of the health care community and those closest to patients exceeded our expectations. Therefore we discovered ourselves, and still can find ourselves, communicating and overcommunicating because theres a thirst and theres a desire to know whatever because its simply such a vibrant time in peoples lives, not to mention health care. Theres so much interruption in all of their lives that as leaders in healthcare, whatever we can do to provide details, to assist them feel empowered and in control and on top of circumstances, were happy to do.

We actually utilized testing as one of those pieces. We really went through and checked all of our staff members to make sure that we might tell the community, “This is a safe environment to come into.”.

When we talk about vaccine trials and the like, weve got to get out into the communities that the African-American, the Latinx neighborhoods, the locations that are struck very hard by this infection, and get those folks into some of these trials so that we can have a great, broad spectrum of folks that are in that. And that requires a level of trust and confidence, working with neighborhood leaders and churches and whatnot, and taking the testing out to the individuals in the neighborhoods.

And that kind of piece enabled us then to be able to, even back to the neighborhood, advertise to say, “Its safe to come back in the ER. Due to the fact that we understand that patients are waiting too long since what were seeing come into the ER, we have a substantially greater admission rate, which meant that theyre coming in too late.

Therese Hudson-Jinks: The response of the health care community and those closest to clients exceeded our expectations. And how can we take our understanding and share it out in the community to, once again, empower individuals to make excellent decisions?

I think at the same time, all of us have an onus in that aspect to ensure that were taking care [of staff members] These are exceptionally attempting times. I do not understand about you, but I felt tired all the time. Its like, people that are able to more remain at house, weve been at work the whole time. Were here ensuring that our clients are looked after, and Zoom environments like were on now make it so it appears like often, probably our days never end. We do get tired. People are challenged. And I believe weve got to make sure were doing those things internally. Theyre feeling not safe sometimes. Am I going to take this infection house? What are some of the things that we can do to support our personnel so that they then can support our neighborhood? And I believe theres a lot we can do still.

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And the other thing I would just include is, weve aimed to our client household advisory council to state, “What is it like to be a patient during these times? What are we missing out on? What could we gain from what occurred? What did we succeed? What could we do differently? What do you need from us now?” Due to the fact that although were clients, too, in some sense, its amazing just how much I gain from simply opening up that discussion and having them show me how we can do a much better job welcoming them back into healthcare. So, its iterative, were constantly discovering. We say were in a development state of mind. Were attempting to be favorable, attempting to refuel our attendings after this very frightening time in health care and be the much better for it, if thats at all possible

Thats been a bit of a lifeline for our neighborhood. Weve been out in the neighborhood throughout all of this. Weve opened testing centers in Chinatown [in Boston] and worked with our Chinatown community because thats where were located as a medical center, asking what they needed from us during this. And how can we take our understanding and share it out in the community to, again, empower individuals to make terrific choices? We are striving to motivate people to come to health care and to look for healthcare so that we can all as a country be strong and be well. Which is truly working well.

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