COVID-19 began taking hold of headlines and the economy about a year ago in Dallas. While it will forever impact almost all industries, the healthcare sector was the front line of fighting the disease and had to be more agile, innovative, and resilient than ever.
D CEO Healthcare is sitting down with health system leaders to reflect on how the last year changed them, their health systems, and the industry forever. Read on for insights, takeaways, and silver linings surrounding fighting the pandemic from Chris Durovich, CEO of Children’s Health.
What is top of mind for you as you reflect upon the last year at Children’s Health during the pandemic?
“Two words come to mind as I reflect upon the last year at Children’s Health: gratitude and perseverance. Our team members have been courageous in the face of prolonged uncertainty. They have been resilient as the pandemic moved from days to weeks to months. The gratitude I feel for the Children’s Health team and their perseverance has left me more humbled, inspired, and hopeful for the future. I never doubted that Children’s Health was uniquely positioned to meet this moment. Our team continues to honor our mission to make life better for children by remaining committed in the face of all challenges to steadfastly serve patients and families in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of childhood disease, illness, and injury. The grace they’ve shown in the face of this historic crisis is extraordinary, and I am tremendously proud.”
How did this year impact your staff?
“We actively partnered with UT Southwestern physician colleagues to address this public health crisis by focusing on preventing infection, protecting our caregivers, and diligently creating the safest care environment possible for children and families who trust us with their healthcare. I am especially proud of the way our team members persevered through COVID-19, maintaining their dedication to our mission while also managing the many personal demands and anxieties they faced during this unprecedented time. I think about our teams providing care, balancing their service of patients and families, and remaining ever vigilant in their protection of them, while also protecting their own personal health to help guard the health of their families and their community. I also think about our team members, who have been working remotely during this same time period, enduring all of the mental and social impacts confronted by so many in our communities, and yet, continuing to make contributions to advance our mission and aspirations, while also often balancing new demands of caring for family members and homeschooling their children.”
What hospital operations changes made during the past year will remain post-pandemic? What opportunity areas has the pandemic exposed for Children’s Health?
“When the pandemic started, our organization was already focusing on continual improvement as a pediatric care provider. We have invested further in technology and processes to support our patients and team members during these challenging times. The pandemic accelerated our development of this technology and its use.We are leaders in the use of telemedicine. Prior to the pandemic, we were already partnering with nearly 30 independent school districts and in more than 220 schools across North Texas as part of our School-based Telehealth programs. As COVID-19 began to spread in the U.S. and across North Texas, we were well-positioned to expand these services, which became vital at a time when many children and families were not able to come onsite for care. To continue routine appointments for patients at Children’s Health, we rapidly converted 74 clinics that normally see patients in-person to virtual appointments, allowing patient families to receive the care they needed without having to leave their homes. Children’s Health now provides many types of medical visits virtually, as well as tele-behavioral healthcare. We have made telemedicine an integral part of our care delivery system, increasing Children’s Health Virtual Visits by more than 2,200 percent, providing high-quality care when and where kids and families need it most.”
What did you learn about the organization’s ability to be agile and respond to new conditions?
“When the first cases of COVID-19 were reported, we engaged in a multidisciplinary, comprehensive process to work safely under a new and evolving set of circumstances. We were ready to meet the challenges of the day and prepare Children’s Health for the days to come. The flexibility and creativity of each of our team members has been a constant in our organizational response and our aspirations. Our organization’s ability to step forward produced countless accomplishments this year, in spite of the pandemic. Among them, procuring and creating proper PPE protocols for our team members and patient families, quickly transitioning more than 2,300 people to remote work with tools and resources needed to be fully functional at home, and credentialing nearly 1,300 providers to safely continue patient care from a telehealth platform, with more than 60,000 virtual care visits delivered.
We completed the first phase of design on our Plano campus expansion, broke ground on our Prosper medical office building, added new members to our Children’s Health Care Network, and invested in the Reimagine RedBird development.”