Attorney today, transport worker tomorrow: Staff pitch in for COVID surge

Staff at Premier Health have been filling in for other roles in the hospital to help out in the COVID-19 surge.

This includes attorney Jenna Downey, who typically works downtown as Premier Health corporate counsel, but Wednesday filled in on patient transportation.

“This is a unique way for me to be able to contribute to that team and to make sure that they feel supported, and that they feel seen,” Downey said.

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Premier operates Miami Valley Hospital, it’s north and south hospital campus, and Upper Valley Medical Center and Atrium Medical Center.

The workers in Premier’s program fill in on positions that don’t require specialized licensing or education such as restocking supplies, cleaning equipment, delivering supplies to the to the units, emptying trash, filling, patient water pitchers and providing other comfort items.

Kettering Health Network also operates a helping hands program.

Billie Lucente-Baker, VP of Human Resources for Premier Health, who oversees the program, said it is not a new program and for years they’ve done temporary staffing solutions through this.

“It’s really that temporary mechanism that allows us to provide the support and resources that we need to our hospitals at any given time,” Lucente-Baker said.

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She said the program has received about 1,500 requests from hospitals to over shifts and they’ve had more than 350 people in support roles that have picked up shifts.

About five to six weeks ago, the hospital started the helping hands program to support direct patient caregivers and other critical support team members because of the rising COVID-19 census.

Federal data shows that the number of Miami Valley Hospital patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 has been climbing. From Oct. 2-8, the hospital had an average of 66 COVID-19 inpatients a day. For the latest reporting week, from Dec. 4-10, there were on average 198 COVID-19 inpatients a day.

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