Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Employee Health and Safety team at WellSpan Health have been working diligently to ensure the safety and health of our staff. Worker’s Compensation Case Manager and registered nurse Lauren Ackley has been vital to this team that has been behind-the-scenes of the front lines.
At the beginning of COVID-19, Employee Health and Safety opened a call line for all WellSpan Health employees in order to help navigate the questions surrounding the crisis. This included managing those employees that have been furloughed for testing, answering questions about testing in general, and referring to the mental health resources that the system had put in place.
“The line was manned by one of our staff members and redeployed nursing staff 24-hours a day, 7 days a week,” Lauren said. “When the call line went live, I answered all the after-hours calls and weekend calls until the call volume became too great for one person to answer. There were days in March and April when we had over 500 calls a day from employees. It was very intense.”
Lauren’s first contact with employees was to walk them through the COVID-19 testing process, and if necessary, the furlough process. If an employee tested positive, Lauren’s team helped them obtain a leave of absence and finalize a return to work policy.
In the span of just over two months, Lauren completed this process for all 82 COVID-19 positive employees system-wide.
“Some days it is really overwhelming,” Lauren said. “We talk with our employees and reassure them, and we want to make sure that they are OK. We are going through this right there with them.”
In addition to helping positive COVID-19 employees, Lauren and her team also has been testing new personal protective equipment (PPE) coming in and ensuring those that need to be FIT tested are. WellSpan Employee Health and Safety has implemented virtual new hire visits and worked with the MacGyver team to enact new ideas for helping and protecting our staff.
“It’s been wonderful having our profession highlighted in such a positive way,” Lauren stated. “Nursing is hard work physically, mentally and emotionally. I think we have been blessed to live in a community that truly appreciates and supports its healthcare workers.”
“The Year of the Nurse is recognition of all nurses and shows an awareness that nurses are in critical demand,” she said. “This need is recognized on a global level. I think the COVID crisis highlights the importance of nursing as a profession, but also the importance of nurses as individuals.”
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