COVID-19 Physician Leadership - Put This System In Place Now!

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

physician-leadership-covid19When the battle against the virus is raging in the ER and the ICU ...

It's all hands on deck
All power to the shields
Throw everything you've got to the front lines

And rightfully so.

That is not enough!

Staffing and supporting the front line care teams is job #1 everywhere and
we can't forget the members of those care teams who are not here today

I am not talking about the workers who are simply off shift right now. Let me show you this physician leadership blind spot.

First we have to release the classic battlefield metaphor. This is not a war of armies and bullets. We are dealing with an infectious disease pandemic, not bayonets in trenches.

COVID-19 is much more damaging to your workforce than any military  battlefield scenario. 

Let me show you a support system for your people you MUST HAVE IN PLACE NOW for this often invisible pool of your best staff who are not able to be at work at this time. Get this system up and running now before the third wave of COVID-19 washes over your teams. 


COVID-19 Is a Worthy Adversary

The virus disables significant numbers of your key providers and support staff in a number of different ways.

First, all healthcare workers can become infected and symptomatic, hospitalized and even tragically may die from this disease.

Here is the Guardian's " Lost on the Frontline " database of US healthcare worker deaths. As I write this the number is 1361. It will likely be higher if you click that link now.

These effects of the virus are obvious and well recognized, however they are the tip of an iceberg. 

covid19-healthcare-worker-burnout-isolation signThis virus has multiple additional ways to take your providers and staff offline and OUT OF SERVICE

      • Become infected, symptomatic and don't require hospitalization = isolated for recovery and OUT
      • Test positive, asymptomatic =  isolated for recovery and OUT
      • Become exposed to an active case = isolated for recovery and OUT

This is a large group of valuable staff that are home, isolated, unavailable and invisible on any given day.

Do not let them slip through the cracks
Do not let them languish in the physician leadership blind spot of  "out of sight out of mind"
And most of all, DO NOT ABANDON THEM!

Learn Your Corporate Strategy to
Stop Physician Burnout


Build a system ASAP to check in on your Out Of Service Providers and Staff

With our attention focused on the overwhelming needs in the front lines, it is easy to forget about the absent. This is a leadership blind spot anyone can fall into simply because of the acuity of this crisis. Don't let this happen to you. 

You have significant numbers of people out now - home and recovering or in isolation - who might not have heard from you since that last shift before they became infected.  

Some of them are lonely, frustrated and suffering through huge feelings of guilt that they are not at your side right now. Many are feeling helpless, powerless and and wanting desperately to get back to work.

They long to hear from you.
You need to know how they are doing. 
Set up a system to make sure that happens.
Do it NOW!

The Tools and Support to Become
An Effective Physician Wellness Champion

Call them. Visit them. Keep track of them. Show you care about them.

Set up a system to ensure regular outreach to all your homebound recovering and isolated providers and staff.

- When they go into isolation ask, "Is it OK if we check in on you?"

- If they say yes, put them into a rotation that ensures they receive a supportive touch a couple times a week. 

- Put a designated leader in charge of this follow up system.

- Set up an accountability system to ensure they complete weekly follow up and report on the number, composition (nurses, RT's, Doctors in each specialty, etc.) and the state of the mental and physical health and readiness of this group of shadow staff every week.  

- When you check in, remember to ask if they need someone to pick up
-- Food
-- Water
-- Medications
-- Pet food
-- anything else?

These touches make sure you understand the condition of your entire workforce.
You know who is out and how they are doing.

These touches are the key to building a lasting culture of trust and support. Your outreach will be remembered for years, by every isolated team member you reach out to now, as a time when you proved you care and had their back.




Do you have a follow up system like this for the out of service team members in your organization?

  • If yes ... how is it going?
  • If no ... when will you get it started?


Tags: Physician Leadership, stop physician burnout