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Guest Columnist: Jackie Stevens | COVID-19 Task Force Takes Control

Jackie Stevens, Chief Operating Officer

Since the coronavirus pandemic has literally infiltrated all of our lives, Penn-Mar’s COVID-19 Task Force has been “meeting” daily via teleconference to address and implement the ever- evolving precautions and necessary adjustments that are changing life as we know it. These actions affect our team members and approximately 200 people with disabilities who are residents of group homes, live on their own, or have families who cannot provide support.

My family would be happy to know that now, more than ever, my faith is bigger than my fear. But hope is not a plan of action, so under the guidance of our Operational and Human Resources team leaders, we like you, are working and revising strategic actions to help us get through these unprecedented times.

Daily we are looking at worse-case scenarios but are committed to taking immediate action in a reasonable direction. We know that moving too fast, too slow, or not far enough could end in disaster.

You are reading a lot in the news about the challenges facing hospitals, first responders, and nursing homes. Well consider Penn-Mar in those categories.

Not only do we have team members and their families to think about, but also approximately 200 people in various programs who require essential support. Many are medically fragile and compromised so it’s imperative that we make the right decisions to protect them.

It is in moments like this that we are able to highlight the value and critical importance of the jobs Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) do that people never get to see and appreciate on a regular basis.

The people we support have different levels of understanding about current events. They are questioning why they are not going about their normal schedule. This is yet another reason why it is so important to have our DSPs alongside them to help them navigate the uncertainty.

“Beyond impressive” is the best way I can describe the efforts of our entire team. In addition to the DSPs, we have program managers who are in constant communication with residential supervisors and houses. And there are many people behind the scenes working hard to keep the organization operating—finance, maintenance, IT for example. Without their dedication, we could not keep team members working and support happening.

In addition, we are communicating with our families frequently as things change, sending them information that matters, relevant to their concerns. We also appreciate their understanding that we are navigating unprecedented territory and may not immediately have the answers to every situation.

Like you, each day we are learning from the prior day’s events. Going forward, we will continue to problem solve, answer questions and plan for “what’s next.” Our front line team members know they are here for the duration and their actions and reaction to this eventuality are simply amazing.

When we finally make it to the other side — and we will — there is no question in my mind that we will have learned a great deal about ourselves and our organization. I foresee many examples of unexpected people stepping-up and shining in ways we never could have imagined. The decisions and actions we are taking today are the legacy we are creating for ourselves as individuals and as an organization.

We pride ourselves on being innovative at Penn-Mar, yet even so, I know this experience will compel us to do some things differently in the future. Throughout this process we will have learned new ways to be more effective, more efficient, and more human. And that is much-needed, very good news indeed.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 20th, 2020 at 12:41 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.