Unity Point CEO Clay Holderman emphasized the need for empathy within the organization during this week’s video message. It’s an ironic message from the face of an organization that is demanding its employees get the COVID vaccination or find new work.
“I just want to lean into the emotional weight that I kind of feel across the organization and I see it in your leaders in a way that I haven’t seen in the entire nine months that I’ve been here even though I arrived at a higher peak than we’re at now in the COVID world,” he said.
Holderman said he spent time with employees’ leaders last week and they discussed empathy.
“You know, empathy is being able to relate to someone else’s troubles even though you haven’t walked in their shoes before,” he said. “And it feels harder to do today.”
Holderman noted one year ago healthcare workers were being embraced by communities as “healthcare heroes.”
“And now, rock concerts are back and football games are going — it seems the world has moved on and forgotten that we’re still in a pandemic,” he said. “So in times like these, when stresses are real and physical as we deal with staff vacancies and high volumes. And they’re emotional as we deal with 20 months of pent-up stress. Even the smallest things can set us off. And it’s not really the trigger in the moment that caused the emotional reaction from your colleague — or yourself — but it’s all of this pent-up weight we’ve been carrying.”
Holderman said that’s why they’re reminding themselves to have empathy at this point and to give grace to patients, colleagues, co-workers, etc.
“To just ascribe best intentions to people and overlook some of our uglies is so important at a time like this,” Holderman said. “So personally, what I do in times like this is I look for the bright lights. I look for the good news. And there is good news on the horizon.”
COVID, he said, has peaked in early September across the United States. While it hasn’t been felt at Unity Point, he said a decline has started in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. The problem is transfers in from other regions in more rural areas with more COVID spread and high levels of unvaccination.
“My charge to you is really give some grace, practice empathy, realize whatever reactions you’re experiencing from family members or patients or your co-workers are really not what jus happened the last 10 minutes but what’s been happening the last 20 months,” he said. “And if you can, find a place to be a light. Just help in this divided world just to spread a little light and let people know that they really do still matter.”