3 lessons the COVID-19 pandemic has taught post-acute care providers

From staffing challenges to lack of supplies, healthcare organizations across the country have faced many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The challenges and lessons learned during the pandemic was one of the topics discussed during a session at the Becker's Post-Acute Virtual Forum on Nov. 16. The following three executives shared their insights during the panel discussion: 

  • Mark Klyczek, president and CEO of Newport News-based Virginia Health Services
  • Matthew Gibson, president and CEO of Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation in Chattanooga, Tenn. 
  • Danny Stricker, president of St. Louis-based Ascension Living 

Here's an excerpt from the conversation, edited for clarity. To view the full session on-demand, click here

Question: What is one of the most important lessons you learned during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Mark Klyczek: I'd say that lesson has been pulling the whole team together routinely. Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 10:15 a.m., we have a call with every facility administrator, our medical director, myself, all of our senior leaders, just to talk about the current status in the facilities and any support that the team needs in those buildings. We can often say we talk to people daily or things like that, but if we don't have dedicated scheduled time to have those meetings, I don't think you get to the issues that you really need to address. To that point, we've actually even started a COVID decision-making meeting because the original COVID meeting just got too big and we weren't making decisions fast enough for the facility. Right after the COVID meeting, just four or five of us are on the side and we're making decisions and then communicating that back out to the facility. They're getting decisions on a weekly basis on a myriad of topics that they bring up. It's important to have a cadence with how you meet with your leadership team and check in and make decisions as quickly as you can.

Danny Stricker: One of the lessons learned was really more of a reiteration, and that reiteration is that having partnerships across the continuum of care. As we work all together in this new era of healthcare it has been very valuable for those that we serve. I'll tell you that our hospitals, our physician teams, our home health agencies, our hospice partnerships, lab … all of us are coming together with a single focus of ensuring that our patients, our residents, our associates are safe and have all the resources that they need has really just been remarkable. It's proven that the time that we've put into building these collaborations and partnerships is really for the benefit of the patient that we serve. Our hope is, going forward, that that also supports our continued commitment to integrate as well as organize ourselves to move into a fee-for-value environment in the near future.

Matt Gibson: The lesson is that you can never communicate too much. Not just about the new initiatives that are part of your risk mitigation plan, but often the why. I mentioned earlier the different mechanisms that we've leveraged for communication, but … you really can never communicate too much, and not just what you're doing, but especially with a highly educated workforce, why it's necessary or why the tactic that you've had in place for two weeks or three months is changing or pivoting for whatever reason. So, just that you can never communicate too much.

More articles on post-acute care:
How post-acute care providers can build a strong tech foundation: 3 ideas
How 2 hospice execs are reimagining their workforce strategies
Best, worst scenarios for post-acute care in the next 24 months

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