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The triage tent outside the HRRMC Emergency Department.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads in Colorado and elsewhere, Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center says it has been proactive in re-configuring employee work assignments as procedures are being prioritized.

After restrictions such as canceling all elective surgeries, rehabilitation appointments, closing the Wellness Gym and closing specialty clinics to all but sick patients were enacted, some employees were challenged with little or no work to do for the time being.

HRRMC Marketing and Public Relations Manager Allison Gergley explains that a ‘Labor Pool’ approach was put in place since about mid-month [March]. The Labor Pool team schedules workers currently displaced from their normal departments to fill new, and needed job roles.

The changes affecting certain procedures and service lines also presented a need to fill roles in other hospital departments, such as the Emergency Department, Medical and Surgery or Environmental Services, in order to deal with the surge in respiratory symptom patients in the area, Gergley said.

“We wanted to give all employees the opportunity to continue working even if their daily work, tasks and department may change, and at the same time came that inherent need for help in other areas,” she added.

“Here’s to Good Health in 2020” was the message displayed on the HRRMC Sign in Janaury, ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. (Photo by Taylor Sumners)

The Labor Pool is separated into two main areas – clinical and non-clinical, and the Labor Pool team leads (also employees who have shifted roles for the time being) each focus on one area that is more their expertise. That allows them to help fill roles that best fit with employees’ strengths and skill sets and overall facility needs.  For instance, said Gergley, the clinical labor pool lead is a Registered Nurse, while the non-clinical labor pool lead oversees the dietary, wellness and rehab departments.

“An example of this is we have had several OR (operating room) nurses that are now allocated to the Emergency Department triage tent to help with testing. They have a background that’s applicable, and are fully trained for the transitional role,” explained Gergley. “Another example is that since we’ve now set up medical screeners at each entrance, they work to ensure visitors with and without respiratory symptoms are triaged accordingly. These screeners have been non-clinical workers, such as registration specialists, or oncology massage therapists – both roles that are normally visitor and patient focused, and are a good fit in that sense.”

In the event of a large surge in COVID-19 patients at the hospital, the HRRMC Labor Pool will help activate and prioritize getting all medical workers transitioned to new roles to help provide care as quickly and efficiently as possible, while the non-clinical team will fill in personnel gaps wherever needed.

“This is an ever-changing situation, so we are trying to pivot accordingly as the changes occur,” added Gergley.