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Building Staff Well-Being and Resiliency Through Crisis: Akron Children’s Hospital

Joy Burt Akron Children's Hospital

A conversation with Joy Burt, MSN, RN, NE-BC, CPXP, Patient Experience Manager, Akron Children’s Hospital

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Joy Burt’s team at Akron Children’s Hospital was primarily focused on patient rounding, with some emphasis on staff rounding. But as soon as the pandemic accelerated in early March, they knew they had to act quickly in light of the demands and uncertainties brought on by COVID-19.

From the start, Akron Children’s leadership team set up a cross-functional Incident Command Structure made up of Logistics Section Chief, Support Branch Director and Employee Family Centered Care Unit Leader. Focused on well-being  resources, donations and staff resiliency/leader rounding, their key tasks included creating daily video updates to  share with staff and reassigning staff members to different teams when necessary.

“We had a lot of staff in our ambulatory areas that needed to be reassigned, and a lot of them became support to these different teams.” – Joy Burt

The Urgent Need for Staff Rounding

Expanded leadership rounding on patients and families was one of Akron Children’s main goals for 2020. The onset of  COVID-19 accelerated that timeline, shifting priorities to ramp up staff rounding.

“Staff resiliency was identified as a priority really quickly, starting out with leader rounding. Our VPs had been rounding for the last few years, but… it really changed when we went from 40 people who are directors and above to 300…We used all of our supervisors, managers, directors, along with the VPs, and made sure they all had access to our CipherHealth rounding tool, no matter their role.”  – Joy Burt

It’s undeniable that healthcare workers are closer to the crisis in so many ways. As of August 13, 2020, more than 132,000 healthcare workers have been infected with COVID-19 and 624 have died, according to CDC.

 Akron Children's Hospital

Greeters don PPE to protect themselves as well as visitors to Akron Children’s Hospital


With tragic stories of how medical workers had to reuse PPE in hospitals affected by large COVID-19 surges, it’s no wonder staff rounding became an important component in Akron Children’s crisis response plan.

“Rounding helps with our leadership visibility. It showed that we knew this was a very challenging time, and that we’re here for our teams. And we got great feedback from the rounds we had done.”   – Joy Burt

Scaling staff well-being efforts across all sites

How did Burt and her team ensure their staff rounding efforts were reaching all of Akron’s expansive system? They expanded the program to their 100 outpatient sites, ensuring the staff’s challenges were escalated up to Incident Command for timely resolution.

Akron Children's hospital nurse 3 CipherHealth

Akron Children’s implemented safety procedures to showcase additional efforts they were making around cleanliness.


But it wasn’t just the Clinical teams that needed rounding; Akron Children’s connected with its support teams to meet their needs as well. The Finance and Supply Chain teams, along with other essential business departments, also had their own processes change rapidly. The Akron Children’s team wanted to ensure that staff’s voices from those departments were heard, too. And the most remarkable thing about the system-wide staff rounding implementation? Burt’s team was able to add 100 new users to the staff rounding system in just four days.

During implementation, Burt had frequent changes to the scripting, alerting and reporting — which is to be expected, especially when there are so many unknowns to work with. CipherHealth helped the team stay agile as the situation changed.

“It was really wonderful to see how CipherHealth jumped right in and was able to help us get up and going. You could really tell they were dedicated. They knew how fast things were changing.”                   – Joy Burt

The (uncertain) path forward

With all the uncertainty ahead, one thing has become clear: healthcare in a post-COVID-19 world looks much different than the healthcare of yesterday.

Windows painted to support hospital staff

Akron Children’s Hospital’s windows decorated to support staff well-being and staff resiliency.

“We certainly want to build into our system – how do we care for our staff? What are the well-being and resiliency tools that we’ve learned during this time that we’ll continue to use to meet their needs in the foreseeable future?” – Joy Burt

One thing Burt hopes will remain in place after we move beyond the pandemic? The shifting priorities around staff well-being.

Watch this video to hear how Joy Burt and her team at Akron Children’s Hospital mobilized to protect staff and patients in light of COVID-19, part of our “Roadmap to Recovery” series of Customer Stories


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