2020: Leading through Disruption

Looking back at 2020 without thinking of the challenges posed by COVID-19 is impossible. On a personal and professional level, we have had to navigate unprecedented changes to everyday living.

As the health crisis unfolded, our top priority was and continues to be focused on providing our customers with the necessary support to face the challenges of this pandemic. At Pathway Health, we quickly pivoted to provide enhanced virtual training and support, complimentary COVID-19 resources and onsite expertise to support providers in critical need. We added virtual consulting and other streamlined solutions to assist providers quickly and efficiently.

As I reflect on this year, one thing that stands out to me is personal connection. We have been innovative in using technology to keep connections with family and loved ones. I believe not only that technology is a great vehicle during these challenging times and will continue to be great when used appropriately, but I also believe that our beings need a human touch. I hope that as restrictions end with the ending of the pandemic we foster and promote conversations, parties, dinners and any other form of human contact that puts aside technology. I believe as health care providers we can lead the way in promoting and displaying the power of human contact to all people – friends, family, loved ones, strangers and even perceived foes. We are better as humans when we look into another person’s eyes and create a connection.

During the numerous connections we have made with staff, residents and leaders throughout 2020, the question of how to lead when surrounded by a world filled with chaos has permeated to the top of most conversations. Below are some of the insights we have gleaned from these conversations:

Unprecedented but Not Insurmountable
COVID-19 has disrupted our ever-changing world in long term and post-acute care and has disrupted how care is provided to those we serve and upended our daily operations. The pandemic has also created workforce challenges beyond what we could have imagined and supply shortages that were beyond comprehension. These challenges have forever changed how we provide care and support families, caregivers and business operations.

Many of the changes have had a positive impact on our work. Some leaders expressed how in their darkest hours, the opportunity to quickly evaluate best practices and innovative processes provided unprecedented collaboration with partners and their staff.

This year has brought an array of challenges for leadership teams and staff. COVID-19 has challenged all of our leadership abilities, forcing agility and creativity in our new world. We know that leading in today’s health care environment requires energy that focuses on creative engagement and inspiring collaboration within our organizations and with valued partners. Now more than ever, it is so important to provide our teams the opportunity to lead with courage, inspire others to provide excellence in care, act with purpose, coach others to reach their potential and support colleagues.

Rapid Change is the New Normal
Change has been rapid in 2020–faster than anyone has ever experienced or witnessed in our lifetime in health care. Leaders expressed how they had to “roll” with change, which could happen from moment to moment and even multiple times throughout the day. The art of being a fluid leader while maintaining a sense of stability to the overall team is the new norm. I witnessed this in our own organization.

Operational changes that have been implemented either through emergency orders or out of sheer necessity have impacted how Pathway Health provides consultation and other services. Some of the business shifts may go away once COVID-19 has stabilized, however, many will stay and drive the new direction into the future. As leaders, the balancing act of being agile and focused during times of rapid change will be the only thing that remains constant as we move forward.

Grateful for Resilience
This year has brought about unimagined loss and struggle for many,  yet the story of this pandemic is how uneven that loss and struggle have affected people. Resilience has resonated through all of our conversations and so many of our customers have expressed gratitude for the Pathway Health consultants. The gratitude is due to their display of resilience and support when preparing for or responding to an outbreak and providing resources to best serve those in their care. I am grateful for the leadership and supporting role our team continues to provide and for the opportunity to serve the long term and post-acute care community.

Challenges Bring Opportunity
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenging days, and it has been hard at times to try and find the positive elements. We need to be aware and alert of the changes and challenges impacting the current state of the profession, then gain insight on trends and new realities that are emerging. This current state of disruption can prove to be a launching point for all of us in long term and post-acute care–allowing us to take hold of what we do well, and understand how to position ourselves for the future.

Aligning Partners
The COVID-19 pandemic has moved Pathway Health and providers to solidify partner alignments in order to provide solutions. This has impacted how to provide service, how to best leverage technology, and how to quickly and efficiently access expertise. Our ability to adapt quickly differentiates us all in the marketplace. Pathway Health has seized the opportunity to envision our new normal to support our profession to remain sustainable.

Now is the time to focus on creating our bold vision for 2021. The pandemic has given us a disruptor that presents us the path to transform how we do things, look at new approaches, further our knowledge and ignite the passion within ourselves to move above and beyond COVID-19. As we all build our new reality, accelerating positive transformations that already were in process before the pandemic and building upon new innovations will remain critical to ongoing success.

Thank you for entrusting Pathway Health to support you and your team throughout 2020. I look forward to connecting with you in 2021 to discuss how Pathway Health can support your vision and organizational goals!

Peter B. Schuna, LNHA, HSE
Chief Executive Officer