Combat zone metaphors are everywhere now, presumably because the drastic toll of COVID-19 permits few other apt comparisons. The number of coronavirus deaths in the United States has already surpassed the number of American deaths in the years-long Vietnam War. Hundreds of our Clinica colleagues are in the trenches of this campaign. The rest of us, mostly relegated to our work-at-home bunkers, are marveling along with the rest of the world at the professionalism and grace of the front-line heroes.
But the aim of this series is to look “Behind the Scenes,” where people wearing sweatpants rather than scrubs are also rising to meet unprecedented challenges. A recent installment of the series outlined the range of initiatives that Clinica has driven forward in just a few weeks. For each of these extraordinary efforts, Clinica’s new band of home-workers has been indispensable.
“It has been hard for many of us to balance work with caring for young children,” said Billing Manager Veronica Gonzalez when pressed to describe something that has been diffic
ult for her team. Clinica’s billing specialists have made space in their homes for dual-monitor workstations that allow integrated “softphone” business calls. They are coping with a deeply reduced workforce but have transformed themselves into an effective virtual unit nonetheless.
The coding department also coalesced as a remote team, right at the onset of the crisis. Anybody who spent time upstairs at the Lafayette building in the pre-COVID era could see each group’s tight-knitted collaborative spirit. Now the comradery and easy coordination of common office space are gone, as the teams navigate unfamiliar COVID-related billing and coding nuances. They yearn for their furloughed co-workers to rejoin them. But throughout, their unwavering hard work to maximize reimbursement has been crucial for Clinica’s survival.
Similar dynamics are playing out across Clinica. Some aspects of at-home work are being welcomed. Nobody claims to prefer their shared office refrigerator to the one at home, for example. Personally, I’ve enjoyed noting caller ID locales as colleagues dial in from their mobile phones: Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Niagara Falls, Sioux Falls, etc.
It is nice to be reminded that people have come from across the country to join the fight for Clinica’s mission, especially during a time when fighting has rarely been more important. And while another military analogy seems unavoidable, the leap from battle armor to sweatpants is just too far.
By Anthony Porcaro, Clinica grant writer