Filling Employee Needs Boosts Coronavirus Fight

Finding innovative solutions to support employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital is partnering with Sodexo to launch an in-house grocery delivery service – and is moving to the widespread use of iPads to connect patients with staff and family members.

HASC’s Communities Lifting Communities community health initiative regularly shares stories on innovative solutions to challenges that face member hospitals and their neighbors. To submit a story, contact CLC executive director Susan Harrington (below). While not every story can be developed into a feature, all will be carefully reviewed and considered.

This month USC Verdugo, in partnership with the food services provider, launched an in-house grocery delivery system. Employees can place grocery orders for staple items such as milk, eggs, fruits/vegetables, and frozen items twice a week. Employees pick up their ordered items in the hospital’s cafeteria and can pay with a credit card, cash, or payroll deduction. The program was piloted with 10 people recently, and the first week of operation it had 25 orders.

“The goal of the program is to identify barriers and reduce the impact they have on a staff member’s ability to come to work, as they are caring and providing for their families,” said Kenny Pawlek, chief operating officer, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital.

As part of the project, he made storage adjustments to make room for some supplies. Multiple benefits result from the effort, however. These include supporting its hospital staff and patients, reducing the effect of social isolation, reducing the use of PPE and exposure.

USC-VHH is also using videoconferencing to help patients communicate with staff and family. Through iPads in patient rooms, staff are able to remotely monitor patients more often, reducing PPE and exposure. Patients also have been allowed to use the devices to stay connected with their family members — which reduces anxiety as family members worry about loved ones.  Hospital leadership is exploring additional ways to leverage technology to support patients and staff. There are plans to use tablet devices to reduce the effects of social isolation for patients by planning health-focused entertainment for exercise. Another initiative is underway to provide family members access to patient updates by phone once a patient has been admitted or dropped off at the facility.

Social isolation is a strain for both hospital employees and patients that can decrease wellness.  Pawlek recommends that hospital leaders walk around to do in-person check-ins with staff to see what else can be done to reduce the stress and worry that accompanies the pandemic. Through the Care for the Caregiver program at Keck Medicine of USC, hospital staff also have access to free counseling support and housing arrangement to decrease risk to family at home.

“Families are incredibly nervous and adding more strain on our employees and physicians at all levels who have committed to taking care of our community. Therefore, it’s up to us to create the easiest and safest environment in order to take care of our people,” Pawlek explained.

To learn more, contact Susan Harrington, executive director of HASC’s Communities Lifting Communities community health initiative.

Susan Harrington
(562) 884-2383