Leading in a Crisis

September 22, 2021

The COVID-19 vaccinations started this week! Hope and help are on the way. We are still facing a crisis as the number of cases and those hospitalized continue to skyrocket. The work of leading in a crisis is far from over. Many of you and your staff are feeling exhausted and burned out. My heart and prayers are with you. Please stay vigilant and remember you are the role model for your team and community.

Dr. Richard Carmona spoke to the Arizona Healthcare Executives virtually on Dec. 9th, on Leading in a Crisis. Here are a few excerpts relevant for any crisis:

• The best leaders are team builders, especially true during crisis.

• Delegate leadership and logistics to the person who can do it 24/7, not necessarily the highest ranking person.

• Leaders set the tone. Tell stories.

• As trauma surgeon for many years before going into Admin, he recognized that when a GSW was         coming in, people were running around frantically getting ready. Everything needs to be predetermined, where each team member stands and each knowing what to do.

• Train like your life depends on it!

• Have an Incident Command center; for every hazard have an infrastructure to deal with COVID-19, natural hurricane, blizzard, bomb threat, or active shooter.

• Need redundant people and systems in case of adversity.

• Nothing more reassuring when you show up at Emergency Operation Center and they recognize you, the tempo changes, as they know and trust you.

• Last thing you want are people introducing themselves, they need to know each other. Rehearse         scenarios and drills to cover unknowns, then conduct an After Action Review.

• Every day you should lose sleep over what you missed.

• Be mutually interdependent to create a successful outcome.

• Focus on teachable moments. • People want to be inspired and feel part of the team.

• Be calm in the worst situations. Show that you have control, even if you are struggling.  Don’t scream, yell, or others raise their voices.

• Encourage the team, “You know what to do, I have faith in you.”

• You are responsible for the destiny of others.

• Release power to others.• When people leave you, they should feel good.

• Relationships are key.

Richard Carmona MD, MPH, FACS was the 17th Surgeon General of the United States and is the Distinguished Professor of Public Health at MEZCOPH. He also holds faculty appointments as a Professor of Surgery and Pharmacy. Trained in general and vascular surgery, Dr. Carmona also completed a National Institutes of Health-sponsored fellowship in trauma, burns, and critical care. Dr. Carmona was recruited to start and direct Arizona’s first regional trauma care system in Tucson. He went on to become the chairman of the State of Arizona Southern Regional Emergency Medical System, a professor of surgery, public health and family and community medicine at the University of Arizona, and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department surgeon and deputy sheriff. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

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