University Hospitals Helps Businesses Restart

An interview with Joan Zoltanski, MD, Community Reactivation Director; Leader, UH Healthy Restart; David Sylvan, President UH Ventures; Ethan Karp, CEO, MAGNET; and Brandon Cornuke, Vice President of Startup Services, MAGNET.

Why did University Hospitals take it upon themselves to help businesses?

Zoltanski: University Hospitals has a legacy of caring for the community and that commitment extends beyond the walls of our institution. During the pandemic, UH provided our community with advice on symptom management, when to seek care and the latest advances in COVID-19 care, such as testing and access to clinical trials. Through these interactions, many businesses were asking us how to keep their employees and customers safe. We then leveraged our expertise in infection control to offer free resources that would help businesses advance their recoveries. And shortly thereafter we rolled out the UH Healthy Restart Playbook, a comprehensive toolkit to guide businesses in reopening safely.

What’s included in the UH Healthy Restart Playbook?

Sylvan: This toolkit includes a website with up-to-date content; a downloadable how-to guide; and an opportunity to ask UH experts for advice. Our goal is to share what we have learned about COVID-19 in a way that is understandable and helpful to our local businesses. The UH Healthy Restart Playbook includes information on what employers need to know, how to keep people safe, guidelines for environmental safety, and recommendations for building trust with employees and customers. Answers to the most frequently asked items are also published online so all viewers may benefit from the guidance provided by UH.

Who provided the information contained in these resources?

Zoltanski: The UH Healthy Restart Playbook aggregates key recommended best practices in alignment with current guidance from federal and state agencies. UH infectious disease experts, including those with the UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health, provide context and simplification of the material along with contributions from our physician-scientists; our innovation division, UH Ventures; and collaborative teams from clinical and corporate functions across our health system. In fact, the UH Roe Green Center is staffed by board-certified infectious disease specialists who have been on the leading edge of research, prevention, and treatment of pandemic diseases for 40 years.

Are there other services UH can offer businesses as part of the UH Healthy Restart program?

Sylvan: Yes. For an additional fee, UH offers customized consultative services, such as:

  • COVID-19 Hotline - Quick access when employee screening results are positive.
  • Clinical Review of Reopening Plans - Evaluation by UH safety officers and infection control nurses.
  • Webinars - Focused clinical and safety information from UH experts.
  • N95 Mask Fitting - Professional, individualized fitting of protective equipment.
  • Entryway Screenings - Employee screening at entrances by a UH caregiver.
  • Site Visits and Consultations - UH infection control specialists provide guidance on distancing, personal protective equipment and cleaning.
  • Chief Health Officer-in-Residence - Dedicated clinical resource to address ongoing needs.

Are you making modifications to the Playbook to dive deeper into a specific industry?

Sylvan: Yes. We currently have a number of industry-specific supplements underway. For example in the manufacturing arena, we have worked with the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET) to not only design a return to work plan for them, but to help them provide consultation for their customers who are small- and mid-sized manufacturers across Northeast Ohio.

What were some of the concerns you had in reopening?

Karp: Not only did we have to ensure our 45 MAGNET employees would be safe, but we needed to provide trustworthy solutions for our manufacturing tenants and those who come into our facility for training. We have a prototype manufacturing plant at our location so we also needed to make sure we could have people safely interact in that space.

Why did you think UH could help?

Karp: UH has a plethora of experts skilled in infectious disease as well as facility management. By utilizing UH’s evidence-based guidance, we convey to our employees and other stakeholders that we have dotted all the I’s and crossed all the t’s and are working to keep them safe. UH gives us the credibility that we have implemented effective protocols based on current understanding of COVID transmission. There is so much information on the various state and federal websites that it’s impossible to sort through it all and make sense of it. The UH team has distilled the clinical reasons behind the most important information that’s relevant for our business.

How have you engaged UH to help with your reopening efforts?

Cornuke: We modeled many of our processes and procedures from the UH Healthy Restart Playbook. For example, we put partitions in classrooms, closed off sink areas and properly distanced our workstations. But now we are taking their manufacturing content to the next level. We are working with UH to dive deeper so we can provide these resources to our clients. For instance, we are discussing the differences between the various masks available in the market and comparing these masks to face shields. We are providing discussion around the use of fans and air conditioning and the circumstances for proper use. We detail various disinfection procedures and the areas within a plant for concentrated focus.

What has been the reaction of your employees/customers to these efforts?

Cornuke: Our staff feels very comfortable we’ve taken the necessary steps and out tenants are really pleased with the safety in facility. With the measures we’ve implemented, they feel we have made safety an important facet of our culture and particularly made their safety a priority.

Any advice to other businesses /lessons learned?

Karp: There is no such thing as over-communicating. It’s very important to constantly stay in touch with your stakeholders about the steps you have taken. A key point is to listen to your people and seek their feedback about their experience when they walk in your building so you know what is working and what isn’t. I’m proud of our staff and the measures we are taking because it demonstrates we place a high value on their safety.

I’m also very appreciative UH has been a thought leader in this area. They have really done a good thing for our community and the entire state in stepping up to do this.

To download your free copy of the UH Healthy Restart Playbook, visit uhhospitals.org/restart.

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