As the Program Manager for Emergency Management and the Corporate Safety Officer for NEVHC, my role is to ensure that we have plans in place to respond to emergencies and make sure that all staff, patients and visitors are safe. The biggest challenge with COVID-19 is that everything was so new. We had plans in place for infectious disease outbreak, however COVID-19 was much more complex and not something that we could have 100% been prepared for. In the beginning, the guidelines were changing daily, and it was difficult to really have a solid plan in place to respond to COVD-19. After working with other amazing staff members, we were able to provide guidelines to staff to respond.
From the safety perspective, in the beginning, finding appropriate PPE was challenging, and it continues to be a challenge. We were not sure if we could access the appropriate PPE because we had been placed on an allocation from our vendors and many of the resources being provided by the County were being sent to hospitals. We had to look at alternate ways to keep our staff, patients, and visitors safe.
We were eventually able to reach out to community partners for PPE donations. I have also had memorable moments distributing cloth masks that were donated to our staff. Our staff was so grateful and appreciative that it made my heart happy. This has all brought a big sigh of relief because we can now provide the protection to keep our staff and patients safe.
I have always wanted to be in a career where I can help underserved communities and being at NEVHC has fulfilled that goal. It’s great to see our team and staff come together during these trying times to help the communities we serve who are already marginalized and underserved and are probably seeing the greatest impact from this pandemic. I want to make sure that I am doing whatever I can to help respond to this pandemic, even if it’s just a small part.