The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every facet of our lives, but nowhere as noticeably as in the healthcare sector. Robert Davison, Chief Executive Officer at Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, Inc., is experiencing first-hand the impact of the crisis on the community they serve.

For nearly 70 years, the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris has been steadfastly committed to the core tenets that mental illness is real and, more importantly, that recovery is possible. But today, while the core mission is intact, they have had to quickly transition to a new way of meeting their clients’ needs in response to an unprecedented situation.

The change brought by the coronavirus was swift and deep.

Accustomed to easy access to each other and seamless communication, the employees were used to collaborating and interacting regularly.  With just three days’ notice, their Accounting Department, their Human Resource Department, and all other operations and management teams began working remotely from home rather than under one roof, making easy conversations difficult and cooperation between the departments more challenging.

But the spread of COVID-19 has changed much more than the working conditions for the leadership team. As the virus has forced people indoors, often in isolated conditions, the options offered by telehealth processes have become critical. As such, the front line clinicians, doctors, and nurses are all learning how to leverage the technology that supports telehealth. But the change has not been easy. In fact, there is a steep learning curve for the professionals who have had to replace the face-to-face interactions they are comfortable with.  

While telehealth works well in some situations, personal contact is still necessary. Under those circumstances where nurses continue to give injections and social workers continue to deliver food, clothes and medications to the patients, they have had to carefully observe social distancing protocol and rely on personal protective clothing and equipment when they are in a more dangerous situation.

As Bob pointed out, in order to overcome the obstacles presented by the virus, the organization has had to be very flexible, providing staff with the support they need and the time they require to adapt to the many changes expected of them.  Being resilient, patient, and accepting are key traits that have helped everyone at MHAEssexMorris be more effective.

Most of all, with Bob’s guidance, the leaders have reached out regularly to their trusted advisors, asking questions, seeking ideas, and looking for guidance. They have remained in close contact with their accountant, human resource attorney, retirement plan administrator and other partners, utilizing their talents and expertise to help navigate these unchartered waters. Along with outside support, the staff at MHA has also kept the lines of communication open with their board members and other volunteers and stakeholders to keep them informed and engaged.  

Sometimes the worst of times can bring out the best in people.

As Bob Davison and his team work together they are able to learn new skills, utilize new technologies and techniques, and continue delivering high quality healthcare to their clients and the community they represent.