Making COVID-19 Organizational Decisions

I vividly recall the day “we” made the decision to close the common space at Presbyterian Village North (PVN) and limit outside visitors to the campus due to a strange virus spreading like wildfire across the globe. This decision came early in the pandemic, and before other communities and organizations would ultimately arrive at the same outcome. This was the first of many monumental decisions we would make throughout the course of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, the way in which we arrived at this conclusion set the course for how our organization would navigate the unknown.

Although Forefront Living had (and has) a crisis plan in place, the daily curveballs of COVID require continual adjusting and fine-tuning of this plan. Every morning, since the onset of the pandemic, a team of individuals meet to discuss the health of our organization and how to best meet the needs of those we serve. This approach allows us to be nimble, make and communicate decisions, policies and status updates quickly. A team of Forefront Living leadership, health services, communications, leadership from each entity and human resources comes together to assist in discernment, gathering information, preparing, clearly communicating and taking action on issues as they arise.

This team has met every weekday morning (and on weekends and holidays as needed) for nearly two years. Each 30-minute virtual meeting begins with a report from our Corporate Director Health Services informing us on the current virus statistics for Dallas County including infection rate, ICU bed occupancy, infections, the UTSW prediction model and any local and national Health and Human Services updates. This data educates the group and provides the facts that drive Forefront Living’s pandemic and phased re-opening plans.

During each meeting the statistical update is followed by leaders from PVN and Faith Presbyterian Hospice (FPH) providing updates on their daily census, testing results, active cases and a general look at the pulse of the well-being of those we serve. Communication needs and critical decisions are then addressed.

The goal of beginning each day this way is to provide accurate information as well as a 360-degree view of the organization to aide in the decision-making process with robust discussions, constant re-evaluating of decisions and determining the correct pathway to best serve everyone. These task force meetings help alleviate uncertainty, rumors, lack of input and stress. I personally feel these conversations have significantly eased the difficulty of dealing with rapid, constant change and help us stay focused and make evidence-based decisions.

While some of the changes resulting from this meeting are not always popular, they have all been made with the best interest of our teammates and those we serve. Mission, vision and values and the goal to be transparent are at the forefront of our minds when making decisions. We have learned that is okay to revisit and adjust as things evolve. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, Forefront Living consistently strived to provide timely and transparent communication to our teammates and those we serve. I believe this open communication and active participation in the process will help us navigate the remainder of what the pandemic may bring and beyond.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the entire Forefront Living team, boards of directors, partners and most especially our patients, residents and their families for the support, input and inspiration you provide to us each day. It is an honor to serve with you.