As the CEO of Via Care Community Health Center, I am responsible for the safety, workplace well-being, and protection of my staff. With many years together and shared experiences, especially the intensity of being on the frontlines of a pandemic, we often feel more like family than co-workers. Since day one of this pandemic, the Via Care staff has been my top priority. Staff members are the heart and soul of our community and their well-being is critical. I am proud to report that as of the writing of this update, we have not laid off any staff.
As soon as the pandemic hit, staff was first and foremost the priority of the drastic changes in our daily workflow in our ten clinics. Keeping them and their own families safe and healthy, and employed and busy, was the priority.
Before other health centers, and unlike some entirely, Via Care immediately eliminated non-essential patient visits. This was a difficult financial decision, as fee-for-service Medi-Cal is our financial bread and butter. We decided to risk the financial hit for the safety and well-being of our staff and their families.
We creatively re-purposed staff to keep them busy and employed, and in some cases, show skills otherwise unknown. Clinic managers helped freshen-up the paint at clinics. Providers worked on policies and procedures for upcoming audits. Dental staff helped with administration and fundraising. Things we rarely have time to do were accomplished and will prepare us to hit the ground running when we begin preventative visits again.
I’m leading our bi-weekly all staff Zoom meetings to maintain a sense of teamwork and camaraderie, where staff can voice concerns directly to me, the CEO, and get updates on our plans. These bi-weekly meetings are necessary if we want our staff to remain loyal and a meaningful part of the evolution of this business.
Our staff is our treasure and they deserve our consideration beyond the financial bottom line. I can only hope that we can continue to maintain the workforce that we have worked so hard to build.
Deborah Villar, CEO
Via Care Community Health Center
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