The presidents and CEOs of Pensacola’s three major hospitals have begun texting each other during the coronavirus pandemic to stay in touch.
Like many business leaders, they’ve found it easier to pivot and adapt when they share their experience with trusted colleagues.
The presidents as well as other healthcare leaders on Friday participated in a virtual round table hosted by the University of West Florida to discuss lessons learned from the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
“We feel like we’re in it together,” said Dawn Rudolph, president of Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola. “I don’t know that we would’ve done that organically. I think we would’ve been very collegial, but I think we’re friends now. We certainly understand each other’s perspective in this issue.”
Gay Nord, CEO of West Florida Hospital, said she’s leaned more about mitigating fear of coroanvirus spread.
Earlier in the pandemic, hospitals believed patients were avoiding getting treatment at healthcare facilities for fear of developing COVID-19.
“Fear mitigation, that was never a term that I even thought about,” Nord said. “I’ve learned a lot about, hopefully, how to be more proactive around alleviating fears and trying to think through what is going to be fearful for people as this has changed over time.”
Dr. Garry G. Banks, a private practice owner in Niceville, said he wished he adapted to patients’ fears a bit sooner. He found that many of his patients were high-risk because they were elderly but also would struggle to use technology for a telehealth appointment.
“A lot of your older patients don’t have smartphones. Let them come to the parking lot and I can go to the parking lot to see them. I wish we had worked through some of those ways so we could accommodate more patients from the beginning,” Banks said. “You can’t treat everyone the same way.”
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Mark Faulkner, President/CEO of Baptist Health Care, said the battle against the pandemic is a marathon, much different than the stress from a short-term event like a hurricane. He said he’d hope to build more resilience to help healthcare workers and the community better handle the stress from the pandemic.
“Obviously, this is more of a chronic stressful situation,” Faulkner said. “I think I would try to recognize … sort of the emotional affect that this is having on the caregivers and the community as well.”
Adam Principe, CEO of Select Specialty Hospitals, said he’s worked to understand the perspective of healthcare workers working through the pandemic, patients and their families. He said forgoing visitation at his hospitals has been challenging for the patients.
“(We’re) being empathetic to that situation, being able to understand the sensitivity there and have some sympathy for those patients, for those families and, again, back to our direct care providers and just the anxiety in dealing with the pandemic,” Principe said.
Madison Arnold can be reached at [email protected] and 850-435-8522.