We briefly delayed the annual We Want to Know employee survey as we worked through our COVID-19 preparedness and response. During these unprecedented times, much has changed for health care, and it is more important than ever for CoxHealth to listen and hear feedback from our team.
Our response to COVID-19 has consumed our work for the past few months and we are grateful for your efforts in caring for our patients and our community.
As WWTK gets underway (June 16-July 7), there are more ways than ever that CoxHealth is demonstrating our commitment to employees.
Here are a few highlights of the work we have done around key survey areas:
Leadership during COVID-19
CoxHealth’s response to COVID-19 naturally placed our leadership team in the spotlight, inside the organization, in our community and beyond.
Senior leadership quickly stood up the Incident Command structure early in the pandemic to prepare our COVID-19 response for patients and to protect our staff and providers. CoxHealth opened new channels of communication, including video conferencing, to share news of changes several times each week. Video conferences included director huddles with Incident Command leaders Karen Kramer and Amanda Hedgpeth, and system COVID-19 updates with President and CEO Steve Edwards.
Steve shared regular video updates to staff and providers, as well as to the community. Steve’s Twitter feed focused heavily on COVID-related news with an emphasis on timely, transparent communication.
He advocated for quick action on stay-at-home orders, more PPE supplies and testing capabilities, prompting requests from national news outlets for interviews.
“Our front-line staff and leaders at all levels are being tested and they are showing their strength,” Steve said in this message to employees and the community.
Dr. Robin Trotman shared video messages as well, and participated local and statewide news conferences to share the latest news about the CoxHealth response. Rapid changes like the new COVID unit received regional and national attention. We heard messages of appreciation – from Missouri Governor Mike Parson to community members on social media – about CoxHealth’s leadership.
From a Springfield News-Leader article, "Parson repeatedly praised the hospital in conversation with CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards, telling him at one point that seeing Cox build the new ICU in a matter of weeks gave the state a sense it had a fighting chance amid the outbreak. 'I think that gave us all relief,' he said. 'That was one of those 'wow' moments.'"
From a CoxHealth employee: “So blessed to be part of the Cox Family for 26 years. Their commitment to their employees and patients can’t be compared to any other health care system. Thankful for the strong leadership and support through this crisis.”
Other ways senior leaders have taken action:
- Leaders partnered with the Discovery Center to launch child care services for health care workers. Springfield Business Journal highlighted the partnership, and Steve Edwards’ transparency around COVID-19, in this article.
- CoxHealth built a COVID-19 unit in record time
- In addition to the new 51-bed COVID unit, CoxHealth’s Board of Directors approved a plan to build 36 private rooms in Cox South’s third floor. The unit may be used as a COVID-19 unit, depending on the need, but it also expands our ability to move closer to an all-private-bed model in the future.
Commitment to our workforce
COVID-19 has created a complex and difficult time for health care. Across the nation, hospitals are struggling financially.
We have seen the difficult decisions other health systems have had to make. CoxHealth leaders reaffirmed their commitment to our workforce and took action to preserve jobs.
Steve Edwards wrote to employees in May: “At this point in time, CoxHealth has chosen a different path. We are worried about the thousands of patients who have deferred care, and we want to make sure we have the resources, especially staff, to take care of them. We believe it is possible to avoid draconian measures if we manage to our productivity standards well, and bring up patient volumes to care for our community.”
In addition to our overall efforts to avoid layoffs, leaders also showed their commitment with:
- An unprecedented HR effort to temporarily reassign staff
- CoxHealth’s highest merit increase in a decade in April
- A new discretionary merit program to reward high performance
Communicating major change
In a time of major change, the latest information is more important than ever. System leaders, Human Resources, Corporate Communications, departmental leaders, physician leaders and more joined in a team effort to keep everyone up to date.
Corporate Communications and Incident Command launched a special COVID-19 section on the intranet, with regular news updates, staff education and research links, all in one location.
Meanwhile, Human Resources developed a complete COVID-19 intranet site devoted to staffing and policies around COVID-19.
A few other communication highlights:
- A new email version of CoxHealth Connection, delivering COVID-19 coverage directly to your inbox
- New digital boards in Springfield nursing unit breakrooms
- A full Heroes Work Here campaign, highlighting submitted staff images on the intranet, coxhealth.com and in advertising.
- Coverage of departments working well together: Departments welcomed temporarily reassigned colleagues into their areas during closures. We highlighted a few of their stories on the intranet, coxhealth.com and in social media: Ozarks Dialysis; temporary reassignments in Branson; andentrance screeners in Monett.
Keeping you safe at work
The commitment to keeping you safe at work took on new meaning during COVID-19. While we continued safety efforts like personal badge alarms in high-risk areas and ongoing de-escalation training, we were aggressive about protecting your health.
Our COVID-19 safety measures included:
- Universal masking for staff, visitors and patients
- An unprecedented effort to secure record supplies of PPE – millions of masks are now on hand
- Enhanced visitor restrictions to keep staff and patients safe
- New CoxHealthSAFE mobile app
- Paid sick leave for COVID-19
- Remote work plan – more than 1,300 staff members have been able to work remotely during COVID-19
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP)