Linda Deering Dean, ’87, M.S. ’92, is the former president of Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois, and has seen her fair share of crises in her time as a medical professional.
She also knows how to run an efficient and high-performing hospital, as Advocate Sherman was named a Top 100 Hospital in both 2018 and 2019, according to IBM Watson Health.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are far-reaching and even unknown to an extent, but Deering Dean anticipates that hospital employees will look to the top for guidance.
While no such “playbook” exists for the coronavirus, the former hospital CEO always had a state-guided emergency plan ready to go. Most Illinois hospitals are connected to the State of Illinois Emergency Preparedness service to help plan, seek supplies, financial support and more, as needed.
“Great leadership is essential during tough times,” Deering Dean said. “While I was at Sherman, we had virtual, live and walk-through drills a few times every year.”
“We had plans for mass casualties, pandemics and active shooters,” she added.
Communication is crucial to long-term success, according to Deering Dean. Before the current pandemic was on the horizon, regular meetings were often held between the hospital administration team with key personnel, not only to help maintain the proper infrastructure but to ensure that the hospital patients would experience the highest standard of health care.
Deering Dean knows that uncertain times are tough on hospital employees, too.
“Most importantly, the hospital leadership needs to help the workforce be safe and supported,” Deering Dean said. “All persons and departments work together for the success of any crisis.”
“Leadership facilitates, guides and supports, yet never in isolation of what the team members know and need,” Deering Dean continued.
No matter how safe the hospital environment is for its employees, Deering Dean knows frontline healthcare workers are still putting themselves in harms’ way at the expense of saving others.
“We must honor and praise the courage and commitment of healthcare workers, now and during any given day,” Deering Dean said. “We need to remember that there are lots of heroes in addition to the nurses and doctors.”
“There are nurse and physician aids, along with all the support services such as lab, pharmacy, radiology, plant operations, food service, and more,” Deering Dean said. “Nothing can happen in the hospital without all these wonderful people.”