Supporting the front lines during the pandemic

“In my career, I’ve always been clear on things that I don’t ever want to be good at. Helping to lead and support an organization through a global pandemic would be one of those things. It is a competency I hope we never have to develop further beyond our current circumstances. I know we should aspire to be good at anything that comes our way, so therefore, I certainly would accept being good at responding to the needs of our community and our associates, whether it be through direct patient care, responding to associate needs, etc. I just hope that what we are experiencing now does not occur with repetition over time. Honestly, I hope no one becomes excellent at responding to a global pandemic because I don’t want it to be needed in the first place.

“Being in a ‘support department’ during a time like this is difficult for me personally. One of the things I value most about my role is working closely with our teams across the organization. I’m typically not one to spend a significant amount of time in my office, as I prefer to be ‘out and about.’ I’m not the best at ‘working remotely,’ either, especially knowing I have a house full of distractions at this time. But as we learned more about recommended guidelines and precautions related to COVID-19, I’ve had to choose to limit my normal comfort with risky behaviors — I do race cars for fun — due to circumstances within my own family.

“But this personal circumstance pales in comparison to our associates on the ‘front line,’ directly caring for COVID-19 patients whose ‘calling’ places them in a position where they can’t make the decision to limit their risk of exposure, and then go home to their families, or even care for their own aging parents. We are all in this together, as the saying goes, but there are different levels of being ‘in this.’ There is a differentiation, and we need to understand and respect that difference.

“One of the best experiences to come out of this is the continued level of support, communication, and flexibility among many of the support areas. The Communications, Marketing, Digital and IS teams have been critical partners for HR due to many communication and technology initiatives related to our circumstances. They have balanced our needs with multiple stakeholders. I’m also glad to see the level of productivity that has occurred through virtual meetings and platforms, and through many of our associates that have chosen to work remotely. I’m confident that once we return to a level of ‘normalcy,’ the organization will continue to benefit from the learning and collaboration that has occurred behind the scenes.

“In the past few months, I’ve thought often about Dr. Seuss’ story, ‘The Lorax,’ and this line in particular: Unless someone like you cares an awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. I’m so incredibly proud to be a part of this organization and I’ll close by saying I hope we never get really good at this.”


Chad Hartzell is Executive Director, Talent and Organizational Development, in the Human Resources Department at Beacon Health System.