Leading the Way During Uncertainty
In normal circumstances, working in the healthcare and social services industry can present unique challenges that require quick thinking and adaptability. This past year, COVID-19 made it especially difficult for leaders at TECH to determine the best possible way to provide services under the given healthcare and community restrictions.
Aurie Wornkey, Vice-President of Supports and Services and Aly Spradling, Director of Human Resources were front and center when it came to guiding policy and procedure for the people served by TECH and our staff. As COVID-19 became more than a topic of conversation, the TECH Executive Team found themselves meeting weekly and sometimes, even daily, to navigate the challenges that the pandemic was causing the organization to face.
“We tried to keep people as safe as possible,” says Wornkey. “We purchased large amounts of PPE, limited exposure by rethinking how we interacted in the community and paused movement between houses and day services at TECH.” While it was difficult for both people served by TECH and TECH staff to fully grasp the necessity of the restrictions, most people understood our goal of keeping everyone safe and healthy.
As the spread of COVID began making its way through our community, staff members and their families were feeling the effects of COVID at home. “This navigation had to be one of the hardest. School and daycares were closing, yet we needed staff to show up to support the needs of the people we serve daily,” says Spradling. During the summer to early fall, TECH hunkered down, tightened every last protocol we could, provided educational materials and communications, as well as worked with health care providers and the Reno County Health Department to define best practices when dealing with staff who had tested positive or had a known exposure. The days were long, but working as a team to set high standards and maintain such standards, we got through it.
TECH employees sat on steering committees, participated in think tanks and offered any insight possible for the overall purpose of sharing information and being better equipped to mitigate as much risk as possible.
Wornkey said, “I’m most proud of how the people we serve managed the change and our staff for rising up – coming to work, knowing full well that there were risks.”