When COVID-19 arrived in our community, two employees quickly recognized they were in unique positions to help.
As UI Health Care adjusted to changes caused by the impact of COVID-19, Jacque Meierotto, program coordinator for the Department of Pediatrics, knew her work responsibilities were going to start looking different. She quickly realized her abilities could be best utilized elsewhere.
“I saw that my workload was probably going to be decreased quite a bit, and I knew the hospital was going to have other needs,” says Meierotto. “I spoke up and volunteered my help.”
Meierotto’s offer of help was accepted, and she was soon sent to work at the staging center, where she and her colleagues handle the logistical side of personnel, resources, and scheduling.
“When hospital staff are reassigned to help in other areas they first come to the staging center,” she explains. “We tell them where to go and help educate them on what they’re doing that day.”
Adjusting to change
While she’s been forced to overcome many obstacles in her new position, Meierotto says none has been more challenging than the constant change.
“There’s just so much change due to the fluidity of the situation. Once you think you have a process in place and you think everything is going smoothly, it changes,” she says. “It’s just about communicating and helping the staff understand what the changes are and why they were made to ensure everyone’s on the same page.”
Meierotto emphasizes that the pandemic—or rather, our staff’s response to it—is also a great source of inspiration.
“From the beginning, I knew I was in the right place,” she says. “Everyone is so willing to dedicate any extra time they have. People come in during the middle of the night. People work additional hours after their normal shifts. Everyone there is just trying to help in any and every way they can.”
Asked to redeploy
For Jay Freund, RN, BSN, his normal duties in the Acute Pain Clinic have been supplemented by his willingness to volunteer as a screener.
“Our numbers really slowed up in the OR and across the hospital so, instead of just sitting around, I wanted to help in any way I could,” says Freund. “I went to my manager and asked if it was possible to be redeployed.”
Jay Freund’s redeployment has brought him more than just a new temporary position as a screener; it’s brought him a new nickname.
Making others smile
Dubbed “Mr. Happy” by his colleagues, Freund’s role has allowed him to do what he arguably does best: make others smile.
“Last fall I had a health scare and I didn’t think I’d see tomorrow come,” says Freund. “Now, I have a different outlook on life than most people. I like to make others smile, make them feel like they’re valued, and make their day better than when they first walked in.”
If you asked Freund’s colleagues, they’d say he’s done just that. However, the real mystery is where “Mr. Happy” draws his enthusiasm from.
“Everyone asks me how I have so much energy, and I just don’t know,” says Freund. “It’s just who I am. I’m fiercely proud of the atmosphere across UI Health Care these several weeks. I’m happy to be here.”