HCA Far West - April 20, 2021

Whether helping through a personal loss, natural disasters or a pandemic — our Human Resources Group colleagues find ways to raise the bar higher to support those who support our patients. In this Q & A, Willette Gatlin, HCA Far West Division Regional VP for HR, describes how she and her team helped to support colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: During the COVID-19 pandemic, what specific service(s) and program(s) did you support or develop and deliver?

A: Far West Division was the first to treat COVID-19 patients in January 2020, and continues to treat more patients than any other HCA Healthcare division. We've shared many of our "lessons learned' with our colleagues across the enterprise, including our process of collaborating with Infection Prevention, Employee Health and Quality, Communications and other teams to address our top 2020 issues. Together, we:

  • Created a tracking mechanism for symptomatic and COVID-19 positive colleagues
  • Developed and implemented visitor screening and policy limitations, masking mandates and best practices concerning compliance and use of PPE
  • Combated the nursing shortage through support from external agencies, and adjusted bonus structures, signing bonuses, wage increases and the pandemic pay program
  • Supported Riverside Community Hospital during a 10- day summer strike, as well as a potential winter strike at three Southern California hospitals by securing replacement nursing staff through recruitment tactics or by offering interim leadership positions

Q: Tell us about how that program/service helped solve a specific COVID-19 related challenge and what it taught you and your team.

A: The biggest takeaway is the importance of clear, concise and consistent communication has been critical. Two-way communication was critical, so we could take everyone's input into consideration, minimize confusion and the need for multiple revisions of a practice. It underscored the importance of listening – at times, all someone needed was just to be heard.

Q: What does the phrase "care like family" mean to you?

A: Far West is truly a diverse family with a strong culture. Being the first division impacted by COVID-19 and with some of the highest numbers, we have come together offering support through ongoing communication, guidance and camaraderie. It has been important to offer this support to our colleagues to minimize the impact of the immense pressure and physical and mental stress due to COVID-19.

Q: What is one thing you've learned from experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: Throughout this pandemic, we have experienced many ups and downs. We are all human and can leverage our strengths and opportunities to pull together and strengthen our professional family.