By now, every medical practice leader in the nation has completed the "school of hard knocks" apprenticeship in Crisis Management, compliments of COVID-19. Hopefully, most have made it through unscathed and learned a lot in the process. Now that the pandemic waves appear to be subsiding, some medical office managers may be wondering whether to relax protocols and get back to pre-pandemic normalcy, stay on course, or prepare for new possible threats. The answers will present themselves in due time.
The cyclic experience of COVID, akin to waves crashing on the shoreline, personifies a crisis as fluid, and unpredictable. So, it's human nature to question how one can you plan for something that is unknown or hard to pin down? Crisis management leader Heidi Wysocki says that everyone should feel confident that they are going to have a safe environment for their children to attend school, for their loved ones to get home safely at the end of the workday, and have skills that they can use even on a sunny day at a sporting event if a threat ever occurs. But how do you pin down a moving target?
While some threats are unpredictable, removing unpredictability from the equation is possible. Heidi and her business partner Ed Pietrowski help leaders prepare for and navigate through a crisis. They teach situational awareness and de-escalation techniques for businesses and individuals. Their company, First Defense Solutions, is redefining how businesses and schools view security.
You can't turn on the news without a big red "breaking news" banner brandishing your TV screen announcing the crisis of the day, typically an act of violence. The answer is not to cower or dismiss the thought that you might ever find yourself in a position to have to defend yourself, your colleagues, or your patients. And while it's impossible to predict when a crisis will strike or its impact, preparation gives us a sense of order in the wake of a crisis, that we have done what we could to prevent a tragedy from occurring.
Heidi shared insights with PMI President/CEO David T. Womack on 4/16/22. She shared tips on what medical offices can do in the face of a crisis. She said The COVID crisis is still fresh on everyone's minds. It has taken a toll on our mental health, our livelihood, and our workplace relations, among other things. What you do as a leader during the timeframe is a game-changer.
There are six different ways that a crisis impacts a business: financial, customer base, regulatory impact, organizational, trust, and human impact. Human impact is always the number one thing that you need to address as a leader.
"Our vision is to share our knowledge with our clients so they can enhance the safety and resilience of their workspace, to promote a resilient and secure organization for everyone," Heidi said.
If there's an active shooter in your facility, you need to be able to turn to a crisis management plan, Your employees need to know what to do in a variety of circumstances. You need a code word, a safe room, an escape route. The plan should include training guidelines, and a continuity plan; both should be integrated into every medical practice's compliance plan.
"Our goal is to change the trajectory of crises and save lives," Heidi said. "So you can walk down the aisle with your child. So that today’s kids will be here tomorrow to cure cancer, build a city in space, write the next Great American Novel, or just be a great friend to someone who needs one. We want safer communities and have designed our business with these things in mind."
Heidi shared six characteristics that every leader should hone - all of which provide a solid foundation in the wake of a crisis: communication, empathy, role model, integrity, competence, courage, and decisiveness.