By Diane Doherty, MS, CPHRM
Senior Vice President, Healthcare Risk Management
As Healthcare Risk Management Week continues, we are once again doing a deep dive into how healthcare risk managers rose to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis – and honoring them for their hard work and dedication during this difficult time.
Throughout the pandemic, one of the biggest issues was that new information was hitting the scene on an almost daily basis, causing protocols and best practices to change rapidly. At best, a situation like this is difficult to navigate, but when you add the life-or-death stakes of COVID-19, things become even harder.
The ability to solve problems in the moment is a core leadership skill, one that many risk managers had to develop into a super-power during the pandemic. In fact, I would hazard a guess that few risk managers, if any, had the luxury of responding to emerging pandemic exposures through standard risk assessment channels over the last 15 months. Instead, it became imperative that they be able to pull together agile response teams comprising key stakeholders who could quickly collaborate and resolve the latest dilemma – often within a timeframe of 30 minutes or less.
These rapid-cycle improvements succeeded in no small part because of the risk manager’s ability to articulate a problem, convene the necessary decision-makers, delegate the required actions, and convey confidence in the outcome potential. They had to lead their teams and they had to do it in a way that kept people calm, engaged, and able to implement solutions that had never been tested before in an extremely high-pressure situation. Further increasing the stakes, risk managers had to make sure that healthcare workers were able to work together toward the common goal of keeping people safe and healthy during a frightening and turbulent time.
I’d also like to add that despite long and arduous work conditions that were often punctuated by chaos and fear, risk managers never lost sight of the staff and patients they serve. When unprecedented demands were met with skepticism and doubt, they remained unwaveringly committed to the principle that safety is never worth compromising. Their dedication has not gone unnoticed and we thank them for their continued service.
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