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IN IT TOGETHER: New role in a changing environment

Posted Sep 11th, 2020

IN IT TOGETHER: New role in a changing environment

This is part of a series of stories profiling members of the Niagara Health team and the work they are doing as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meet Rachel Murphy, the Screening Supervisor for our Greater Niagara General and Douglas Memorial sites.

For Rachel Murphy, the Screening Supervisor at our Greater Niagara General and Douglas Memorial sites, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic not only meant keeping up in a fast-paced environment, but having to do so in an entirely different role.

Prior to the pandemic, Rachel worked as a Volunteer Resources Coordinator, supporting volunteers to help meet Niagara Health's purpose of Extraordinary caring. Every person. Every time. However, early on in the pandemic, Niagara Health paused our volunteer services. Rachel then became one of our three Screening Supervisors tasked with ensuring screening procedures are in place across our sites and patients are receiving the best possible experience.

“In a time that was very uncertain, our Volunteer Coordinators were there supporting redeployed staff, orientating new screeners and managing a changing environment," says Tracey Giovannone, Manager Recruitment, Volunteer Resources and Screening. “It's an honour to work with such a dedicated group."

What is your role as a screening supervisor?

As a Screening Supervisor, my role consists of coordinating the screeners at the Greater Niagara General (GNG) and Douglas Memorial (DMH) main entrances, GNG Emergency Department and DMH Urgent Care Centre. I make sure all screening desks are covered, which includes everything from the hiring and orientation process for screeners to covering shifts due to sick calls. I also ensure all the necessary supplies and personal protective equipment are available at the screening stations.

I communicate any updates to our screening and visiting policies with the team, as well as answer questions from team members in clinical areas to ensure consistency for patients and visitors coming to our sites. I also support members of the public and respond to more unique circumstances or questions for our visitors and patients.

The role also includes working closely with Site Directors and Managers to make sure the process in place works for everyone, knowing the top priority is to help keep all those coming to Niagara Health safe – staff, physicians, visitors, and patients. We all need to be aware of our current policies and make sure they can be implemented efficiently across the sites, bringing any opportunities for improvement to our Executive Leadership Team.

Describe how the team has performed during the pandemic?

For the Screening Supervisors, we were already used to working together in volunteer resources  and were able to quickly come together and increase  communication in  our new roles. We meet twice a week, and more frequently as necessary, to create consistency – ensuring the screening experience is the same across sites. We also communicate about any changes to our procedures, making sure the new process will work for all sites.

Our amazing team of screeners work diligently to help maintain a safe environment and provide excellent customer service to those coming into our  sites. As a supervisor, it's my job to give them the tools they need to perform their job to the best of their ability.  Our screeners go above and beyond to ensure people have a great experience.

What's the most challenging part about working during the pandemic?

It's a very dynamic situation. It can be challenging to communicate with screeners, as they don't have computers available to them throughout their shift. However, we've come up with solutions – such as printing out memos and other educational materials and putting them at the screening stations – to ensure everyone is up-to-date.

For me, it was a very quick shift to working on the front lines. I had to confidently communicate our procedures to screeners, as well as clinical leaders, other team members and members of the public.

Yet, from the beginning, community members were very understanding and supportive. People would thank the screeners for helping to keep Niagara Health sites safe for everyone coming in – that was very nice to hear. 

Niagara Health System