The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the day-to-day operations at Marshall Health in fundamental ways. The Huntington, West Virginia-based company is the largest and most comprehensive health care provider in the tri-state region with services that span from pediatrics to geriatrics and include more than 70 specialties.
Before the onset of the pandemic, its 40 locations buzzed with patients and physicians, as well as medical students and residents. But a new emphasis on safety and physical distancing changed that. Well-care visits and elective surgeries were put on hold. Marshall Health soon launched telemedicine services, and more than 250 providers engaged their patients through virtual visits. Some staff have switched to working from home, while others are on voluntary furloughs.
And, it’s not just workforce practices that have changed. Marshall Health has also pivoted its resources and operations to support the fight against COVID-19. Its staff are now administering COVID-19 tests at drive-through testing sites and managing a dedicated COVID-19 hotline for patients. Its pathologists, along with scientists and lab technicians from its academic partners at Marshall University and Mountain Health Network, are addressing a limited supply of the solution used to transport COVID-19 testing swabs by making the mixture in one of the university’s labs. Likewise, Marshall Health is working with hospital partner Cabell Huntington Hospital to help decontaminate N95 respirator masks for reuse. And, pharmacy staff are bottling and dispensing large shipments of hand sanitizer provided by the West Virginia National Guard and Dow Chemical Company to local health care organisations and front-line responders.
The whirlwind pace of change incited by the pandemic has required Marshall Health to respond quickly as new challenges and opportunities arise. The company has focused on supporting front-line workers’ need to stay safe and healthy, quickly and effectively communicating updates to employees and ensuring every employee feels part of a team even though they may now be working remotely or filling a different role.
As a health care organisation, Marshall Health has always prioritised the health and well-being of its employees. In a crisis, making sure those who care for others are also cared for is especially important. The company has instituted several new policies to protect and support its staff.
Employees who have concerns about being at work now have the option to work from home if feasible. Some staff have been put on rotating schedules. The company has also offered voluntary furloughs and more flexibility to employees who are trying to juggle family responsibilities or health conditions with work. Having remote access to employee information through Dayforce has been key to working through these changes.
“Once this started, everything had to move quickly,” says Priscilla Midkiff, Director of Payroll and Benefits. “Thanks to Dayforce, we’re able to do a lot of things business as usual – we're managing time, we're getting paid, we're processing payroll. The managers, regardless of where they are physically located, can do it. Having a web-based solution like Dayforce that is accessible anywhere has been key. We just couldn't do what we're doing right now without it.”
Midkiff and her team have set up a new pay code to track COVID-19-related time and attendance and payroll changes. “It was pretty easy to set up because it was already there and available by the time we needed it,” says Midkiff.
Dayforce’s life events functionality has also helped Midkiff’s team manage changing benefits options and enrollment for employees who have chosen to go on voluntary furlough. Midkiff says that being able to roll out these changes in a user-friendly system that employees were already familiar with has been a great asset. “Dayforce was easily adaptable and already familiar to employees,” she said. “With everything else going on, and all the new things they're having to adapt to, it was great that this was already familiar and convenient. They knew the steps to get through the process of updating their benefits enrollment.”
Ensuring employees are receiving regular communications has been a priority at Marshall Health. Management has daily briefings for department administrators to share developing health news at the national, state, regional and company levels. Those updates are shared with the wider staff by department heads and via the company’s intranet.
“We all know in theory that we need to be engaging our people. This pandemic has made us have to do it very consciously,” says Midkiff.
The company uses the Dayforce messaging system to send out HR communications. It allows them to reach every employee, regardless of location or status, with updates about benefits and pay information.
“A lot of employees that have volunteered for furlough still want to be in the know. They still want to have their teams available or their information available through Dayforce,” says Midkiff. With the Dayforce mobile app, employees can easily access updates, pay information and sick and vacation day balances from anywhere.
“Not all employees have a laptop or iPad, so having Dayforce easily accessible through an app on their phone is great,” adds Melissa Staten, Marshall Health’s Benefits Coordinator. “Having information at their fingertips has given them some peace of mind and been helpful for them.”
Many employers and employees are struggling to adjust to the new normal of working remotely while trying to figure out best practices for collaboration and creativity. While flexible work-from-home arrangements have been key to ensuring employee safety, Staten says it hasn’t been without challenges. “We are so team-oriented. We brainstorm better together, we problem-solve better together. We thrive on being together and working as a team in a lot of different aspects of our jobs. And I've taken that for granted. So, it’s been an adjustment.”
Having Dayforce on their side and Ceridian as a partner, Midkiff says Marshall Health can keep doing many things “business as usual” while also focusing on supporting one another, making sure their patients are getting the best care possible, and contributing to fighting COVID-19 on a greater scale.
Although Marshall Health’s employees and the community as a whole are still practicing social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, Midkiff emphasises that we all are still all in this together. “Doing your part and staying home really helps us do our part. But, if you're concerned about your health, we're still here,” she says.
As Marshall Health moves forward to define its “new normal,” Midkiff says that as of May 4, Marshall Health began the phased process of increasing in-person services with additional safety measures in place for both patients and employees.