Lessons Learned During the Pandemic


Facilities are adjusting to new challenges to deliver safe patient care.

CRISIS MANAGEMENT CRISIS MANAGEMENT No one was prepared for the impact COVID-19 would have on outpatient surgery.

Ann Geier, MS, RN, CNOR(E), CASC, began her presentation at Virtual OR Excellence with a comment about the headshot shown during the session's introduction, in which her hair was a rich shade of brown. "We all know COVID-19 shut down salons, and I always wondered how my hair would look naturally," laughed Ms. Geier, chief nursing officer at Surgical Information Systems. Now fully gray, she talked about the pandemic's impact on how surgery is performed and how facilities are managed.

Human resources, workplace communication and financials have been affected the most, according to Ms. Geier. She said facility leaders need to keep employees informed about current rules and regulations, and let them know why so many comfortable practices are changing. "You cannot overcommunicate with staff," emphasized Ms. Geier. "Be more intentional and focused to keep them in the loop. Share the 'why's' behind every decision."

Ms. Geier noted that many ASCs were not prepared for the elective surgery shutdown's impact on cash flows, and didn't have established lines of credit. She suggested facilities now increase cash reserves to make sure they can survive another financial hit. She also implored facilities to stock adequate amounts of PPE, decide how they'll adjust staffing levels and case schedules in the event of another outbreak, diversify supply sources and plan for managing shortages of essential medications.

Ultimately, Ms. Geier said facility leaders need to take care of their staffs and remain as positive as possible during these challenging times. "Employees follow the lead of administrators," she said. "Set a positive example and offer lots of support by engaging with staff often."

Ms. Geier concluded her presentation with advice for leaders who might be overwhelmed with the added responsibility and pressure of managing staffs and centers during a pandemic. "You're not alone in making big decisions," she said. "Ask for help and reach out to your network. Take care of yourself first because if you're not doing well, you won't be at the best for your staff and patients."

Ms. Geier's presentation is available on demand. Virtual OR Excellence runs through Nov. 20 and is free to Outpatient Surgery subscribers and AORN members. Register here for access to the conference's online learning and networking opportunities.

Danielle Bouchat-Friedman

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