Cedars-Sinai human resources chief on embracing flexibility

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Like other hospitals, Cedars-Sinai was hit by the pandemic and had to adapt quickly to ensure the well-being and safety of staff and patients. Hospital executive Andy Ortiz spoke about how the system embraced flexibility and continues to support its staff, the LA Business Journal reported Oct. 11. 

The Los Angeles-based hospital system serves approximately 1 million people a year in over 40 locations and is the fifth-largest private-sector employer in LA County. 

Mr. Ortiz, senior vice president and chief human resources officer, told the LA Business Journal about how the system implemented a new employee benefits program to meet the challenges of the pandemic. 

"Most of our scheduled surgical procedures had been canceled in that early pandemic stage. We had thousands of employees that had no work, and for each and every one of those employees, we made sure they did not lose one hour of pay. Nor did we lay off a single person," said Mr. Ortiz. Back office staff and specialist physicians were also redeployed to other departments to ensure COVID-19 patients could receive the appropriate treatment. 

The system then implemented a crisis care program and reimbursed staff for care costs, allowing them to come to work with peace of mind regarding their dependents. Cedars-Sinai also set up an administrative leave program so that any staff member suffering with COVID-19 symptoms wouldn't have to eat into their sick leave. "This made a very big difference to our employees," Mr. Ortiz said of the leave program. 

Looking to improve diversity and equity in the workplace, Mr. Ortiz said the system hired its first health equity officer to ensure the community receives equitable healthcare and treatment. 

Mr. Ortiz is also keeping an eye out for future trends. He told the LA Business Journal, "These include flexibility to work from home, adjusting work hours, weekly mental health webinars that are also made available online, and other employee assistance programs."


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