In the Spring, during some of the most uncertain and stressful times of the Covid-19 crisis, someone recommended that I keep a journal of my experiences.
“This is going to be written about in history books,” they said. “Your grandchildren will ask you about what this time was like.”
Amidst all the fear and confusion of that time was a sense of helplessness. So many people were trying to figure out what they could do to help. Repeatedly being told the most important thing we could do was to shelter-in-place felt unsatisfactory to so many who yearned to be a part of the solution.
It was during this time that we received a phone call from the head of emergency management for the state of Georgia, telling us that the state was trying to figure out how to respond to what would become one of the world’s worst outbreaks of Covid-19 in Augusta, Georgia. The hospital there was overrun with critically ill patients, and the staff who wasn’t infected or quarantined was exhausted. The state didn’t have the resources to respond and asked us a simple question.
“Can you help?”
What started in Augusta soon became a state-wide issue, as Georgia was one of the higher-hit areas with Covid-19 cases. The need for clinical staff to care for Covid-19 patients grew exponentially, and the state government’s response followed suit. Time was of the essence. The need was critical.
Our company partnered with nearly 100 other staffing companies to pull off an incredible feat in Georgia, deploying thousands of healthcare workers in all types of facilities in every part of the state. Repeatedly, we received urgent requests for dozens of critical care providers that were needed within just a few days to work at small hospitals. We deployed an emergency response team of nurses, usually within 24 hours, to 95 nursing homes (and counting).
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Our associates and our great staffing company partners have been working around the clock for months on end, because, during a time when we have all felt helpless, this was how we could help.
The even better news is that there are other stories like this around the country. I know that so many of our industry peers could share how they have partnered with governments and healthcare providers, rising to this occasion to be a part of the solution during an unprecedented crisis.
A few months ago, I was interviewed by a reporter who was very concerned about our ability to find enough clinicians to care for Covid-19 patients. She had no idea our industry existed and couldn’t understand how we could find doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who would travel to work on a temporary basis in another city or state.
“You don’t understand,” I said. “This is what we do every day.”
A few weeks ago, I received a message from the owner of a nursing home in Georgia.
“You and I spoke during a very difficult time regarding my nursing home. Today, we are Covid-free. There are a lot of folks to thank, but your team is one of the biggest reasons we are where we are.”
What we do is important. The staffing industry is a vital part of assuring that patients have access to healthcare. Our importance to the healthcare ecosystem has never been more evident than during this pandemic. We should be proud of our role in the noble cause of caring for others and continue to hold ourselves to the high standards of that calling.