COVID is testing the limits of hospital workers, yet the demand is not going unnoticed. Creative thinking is at the forefront in continuing to provide the best patient care. Here’s one way IU Health is responding.
By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, firstname.lastname@example.org
Excellence. Purpose. Team. Compassion. Those are the pillars for IU Health. Every day caregivers are looking for ways to improve on those strengths. Now, a new opportunity has been presented with a focus on “team.”
As hospitals face yet another pandemic surge, and inpatient beds fill up, IU Health is responding with an “I Can Help” app. Both clinical and non-clinical team members can sign up through the app to provide an extra set of hands for patient care.
“Our medical experts forecast this surge will continue for a few more weeks before leveling off and hopefully declining. Our ability to manage this surge lands squarely on our value of ‘Team.’ Now more than ever we need to support each other and to ask how you can help. Keeping our team healthy and strong to care for our patients and each other is priority one,” IU Health President and CEO Dennis Murphy recently shared with employees.
What does that support look like for a non-clinical team member?
“I ordered meals for patients, chatted with them about their time in the hospital, and about going home. I brought them water and Diet Sprite, and answered call lights - dispatching nurses and techs to rooms,” said Jeri Reichanadter, a visual media consultant who has been with IU Health for 10 years. And beyond the hands-on tasks, Reichanadter learned something else: “Our frontline healthcare providers have been battling this pandemic for 18 months. They’re weary, frustrated, brave,” said Reichanadter. “I learned so much about our healthcare heroes during my time on the units. I witnessed how they worked together to care for our sickest patients. How they covered for each other when more than one of their patients needed care. I learned that we go through a lot of supplies, that food trays are heavy and that laughter, tears and prayer gets our team members through the rough times.”
Another team member, Jessica Cassidy, a consultant with organizational development, worked a shift at IU Health Methodist. She spent her time filling supply carts, assembling blood draw kits and other quick-grab kits that contained all the things needed for specific bedside procedures.
“My motivation was to help in any way possible, and to really see what it is like to listen to the team members on the front lines – as a way of renewing understanding and a renewed empathy, so I can share with others and be able to better advocate for any way we can take care of the clinical front lines,” said Cassidy, who has worked at IU Health for five years.
“It was really beautiful to see a team in synergy and supporting each other, even while they graciously accommodated my slow and methodical pace and all my extra questions. I highly encourage others to jump in and help. Head in with a mindset of humility – we’re guests in someone else’s ‘home,’” said Cassidy.
Here’s how it works: Team members click on the “I Can Help” link. They can then choose various IU Health statewide sites and roles where they are willing to offer assistance. Those roles include: “limited patient facing jobs” such as greeting patients, stocking supplies, and answering phones; or “patient facing jobs” such as visitation, ordering meals, and engaging in “what matters most” conversations. For many employees, compensation is provided for each shift.
As of the first week of this month, more than 3,900 team members have used the “I Can Help” app signing up for nearly 1,800 shifts.
“This has been a tremendous help to mobilize organizational resources to areas of high need. We count on and care for each other and that’s what makes our team of 35,000 unique compared to other organizations,” said Murphy.