Successful hospital leadership teams understand the importance of employee satisfaction and keeping frontline healthcare workers engaged. Achieving these goals can be challenging even in the best of times—even more so as healthcare professionals navigate a pandemic.

Jeff Reese, CEO at Encompass Health Van Matre Rehabilitation Hospital Rockford, Illinois, recognizes the challenge and is prioritizing employee communication during the COVID-19 crisis.

Reese believes healthcare providers can achieve excellence by cultivating a highly trained, caring staff that is empowered and confident in their abilities to help every patient achieve their highest level of independence.

“We realized the tools we have at hand could support us in new ways during COVID-19,” said Reese. “Communication to keep employees engaged during the pandemic was going to be vital. Team members were bringing fear and anxiety into the hospital and needed support.”

Reese and the hospital’s leadership team became the central source of trusted information and kept it flowing for employees at Encompass Health Van Matre. Support included increased rounding to check in with employees. The team asked employees what they needed to feel as safe and informed as possible.

The hospital’s digital tools are now being used more than ever to share updates and real-time information. The hospital’s employee app is playing a vital role. Knowing the regular quarterly town hall would not work in the current environment with social distancing, the leadership team reimagined employee meetings into a new virtual format that is pushed to the app.

“We’ve always had a good turnout for our town halls, but the first town hall in the new format actually got more responses and higher engagement than in quarters past,” said Reese.

He is continuing to round with staff and hearing positive feedback, confirming that he and the leadership team at the hospital are getting it right.

Reese was named CEO of Van Matre Rehabilitation Hospital in April 2018, l and previously served as CFO/Controller at Rusk Rehabilitation Center, an Encompass Health hospital. He holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in business administration from Northwest Missouri State University.

Encompass Health’s Powered by Care series profiles how Company leaders and clinicians are delivering on our promise of connected care and superior outcomes. 

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