Our caregivers continued to demonstrate heroism in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, responding to challenges, including new variants and surges, with empathy and courage. We continued to invest in our caregivers’ safety and resilience, keeping them informed during a time of rapid change and uncertainty. Caregiver teams across the enterprise came together to maintain, improve and expand programs to support and recognize their colleagues.
In 2021, we continued our focus on our internal communications approach to ensure transparent, frequent and empathetic communication to our 70,000+ caregivers across the United States and four countries.
We maintained a COVID-19 toolkit on our intranet as the primary resource hub for the latest COVID-19 guidelines, vaccine information, resources and news. We produced dozens of caregiver resources as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to evolve in 2021, generating 42,356 views to more than 125 COVID-19 articles and a total of 112,429 caregiver visits to the toolkit. We also disseminated information via newsletters, targeted emails, executive communications and monthly virtual town hall meetings during which executive leaders answered questions submitted directly from our caregivers.
As the COVID-19 vaccine became more widely available to our caregivers, we communicated vaccine news and information regularly, as well as vaccine eligibility and availability. As a global organization, our communications caregivers from around the world collaborated throughout the pandemic to deliver timely, customized information to caregivers that aligned with their state and country COVID-19 requirements.
A key part of our internal communications strategy is flexibility, which enabled us to quickly address questions and dispense information as the pandemic continued to evolve, and support our caregiver family. By keeping caregivers informed, we fostered safer environments for our caregivers, patients and visitors.
Our Caring for Caregivers team offers confidential services that preserve, restore and enhance the well-being of our caregivers. Through our health and assistance programs, we provide services such as assessments, counseling and coaching, education and training, critical incident response and referrals. Well-being resources and referrals include online articles and seminars, a savings center, family dependent care search, legal assistance and financial counseling. Some new initiatives to support the health and well-being of our caregivers in 2021 included:
- Development of a caregiver well-being page that provided a centralized listing of organizational resources and supports.
- Creation of an Emerge Stronger peer support program for caregivers who’ve experienced challenging patient events.
- Investment in a robust offering of virtual and in-person counseling and support services for caregivers and household dependents through the organization’s Caring for Caregivers Staff and Employee Assistance Programs.
Numerous departments across the enterprise also continued to use their individual and collective expertise to provide support services for our caregivers during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these efforts included:
- A 24/7 COVID hotline through Occupational Health to support caregivers diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Expansion of moral distress reflective debriefs for sharing the unique challenges of providing care during the pandemic.
- Increase in the organization’s back-up childcare programs and resources.
- Expansion of caregiver hardship fund grants criteria.
- Continuation of operations of the Caregiver Support Team (CST), which
- Supported 6,160 caregivers that were out of work due to COVID-19 in 2021.
- Provided more than 54,000 meals to caregivers at work, and more than 135,000 meals to COVID-19 positive caregivers and their families at home.
- Continuation of onsite services to patients and to caregivers who tested positive for COVID-19.
Additionally, we appreciated the gratitude local organizations showed for our caregivers, which included donations such as meals, refreshments, care packages, supplies and more.
At the onset of the pandemic, Tomislav Mihaljevic, MD, President and CEO announced that Cleveland Clinic would not layoff or furlough any caregivers, nor change employee benefits, including healthcare and retirement. When safety restrictions curtailed non-critical patient services, we pivoted to provide caregivers ongoing work, which included assuming new temporary roles for many. Throughout 2020 and 2021, our caregivers were members of a powerful, flexible workforce community who used their expertise to address the organization’s and community's rapidly changing needs, which included staffing COVID-19 testing sites, temperature screening stations and more.
As part of a worldwide workforce shortage in 2021, we implemented a multi-faceted approach to closing the staffing gap, including compensation adjustments, recruitment and supplemental staffing. During 2021 COVID-19 surges, we expanded two programs, Partners for Patient Care and Support as One, to enable caregivers to take shifts to support teams with the greatest need.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19 at the onset of the pandemic, Cleveland Clinic directed caregivers whose responsibilities did not require them to be onsite to work from home. We provided support to remote caregivers to help them maintain their productivity, accountability, engagement and connection with the larger enterprise through a centralized site with online training programs and resources. We also offered one-on-one virtual coaching for Cleveland Clinic leaders to help them address challenges and maintain healthy teams.
More than 10% of Cleveland Clinic’s workforce is now remote or hybrid. We have recognized benefits and challenges with this culturally. To maintain a targeted and mindful focus on the needs and experience of these caregivers, Cleveland Clinic developed a remote workforce strategy and hired our first Director of Remote Workforce Solutions. The director’s leadership has driven the creation of a comprehensive, enterprise-wide set of resources targeted to the remote and hybrid worker, a “Remote Rendezvous” celebration that brought caregivers back to campus to interact with their team and others and teaming strategies for leaders to leverage on behalf of their non-collocated caregivers.
Our caregivers and teams consistently go above and beyond, and we were exceptionally proud of the ways our caregivers rallied around our patients, fellow caregivers and communities in need during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our caregivers demonstrated courage, leadership, empathy, creativity and teamwork, and we were filled with gratitude for their hard work and dedication to our mission. Our caregivers are our heroes and we continued to find innovative ways to recognize their many contributions in 2021.
To recognize caregivers for their teamwork and service, we introduced Hero Huddles. Part of virtual rounding and our tiered daily huddles, we used Hero Huddles to identify individual caregivers and teams for their exceptional efforts and inspiring stories. Our executive leaders personally recognized these caregivers who were identified as going "above and beyond" in caring for our patients and each other. We recognized caregivers enterprise-wide through our Hero Huddles shared Hero Highlights of the week on our caregiver intranet and on our Kudoboard.
In 2020, we launched a digital “kudoboard” to collect and share heartfelt words of encouragement for our caregivers. Through this platform, caregivers continued to receive thousands of inspiring notes, images, works of art, stories and video messages from individuals around the world in 2021, including posts from fellow caregivers, patients, visitors and community members.