Children's Hospital Association: Leader’s Perspective: In Crisis, Practice Kindness, Communication
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed nearly every aspect of life, and for many areas in the U.S., the worst is likely yet to come. Children's hospitals around the country are mobilizing their pandemic response plans—in many cases not only to provide care for their pediatric populations but also help alleviate the strain on adult health care facilities.
Children's Hospitals Today caught up with Paul Kempinski, M.S., FACHE, president and chief executive officer at Children's Mercy in Kansas City, Missouri, to discuss his team's pandemic response and how children's hospitals can support their communities during this outbreak.
How do you reassure your staff in such an unprecedented and difficult time?
It calls on us as leaders to take our leadership to the next level, and there are formal ways we can do that. Every day, we are communicating with our employees internally and our community stakeholders externally. We do that using social media and all the available formal and technology-based communication mechanisms.
Candidly, the most effective way of communicating and engaging our employees is for us as leaders to be out there and visible. I told our team that while we need to be practicing social distancing, we cannot practice leadership isolation. If there is ever a time when we as leaders must be visible and out there talking directly with our employees and our stakeholders, this is the time to do that.
I can't tell you how impactful it is for staff members just to have the CEO there and talking with them. Not just leader-to-staff, but human-to-human. That's the most powerful means of communication we have.
I think our new physician-in-chief, Rob Lane, summed it up very well. He said, "When we get through this—well through it, like 10 years from now—we want our employees who are here and remain here to be able to look back upon this pandemic and say, 'Despite how challenging and how difficult it was, our organization cared for us. It had to make tough decisions. We didn't always agree, but we got through this and our collective soul and our culture remained intact—if, in fact, it didn't elevate as a result of it.'"
That's the way we want to be able to look back and tell the story. Time will tell, but I believe we're well-positioned to do that.
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