In this episode of Fireside Chat, we sat down with Wright Lassiter, President and CEO, Henry Ford Health System to talk about crisis-generated innovations and how he has encouraged his team to sustain and build on those innovations post-crisis.

Michigan is one of the hotspots of COVID-19. At the time of this recording, Henry Ford Health Center had seen 247 deaths and the had seen over 1600.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on health systems both large and small, in terms of physical, emotional, and economic health. According to Wright, the virus has taken a toll on his physicians, nurses, and staff members.

“I think morale is about as high as you can expect when you have a set of individuals going through what is truly a battle,” he says.

“We get people working really, really hard, working overtime and double shifts and doing their best to ensure we have enough clinical resources available. They’re tired. Clearly, they are stressed because they’re seeing more deaths than they normally see in a career.”

Henry Ford Health Center put measures in place immediately to help support workers’ mental health. Wright and his leadership team are encouraging workers to focus on self-care in the midst of the crisis. He has also emphasized the importance of recognizing caregivers and staff members who have passed away due to the virus and coming together as a team to honor them.

Wright characterizes the COVID-19 battle as more of a military-style operation, mainly because it requires health system teams to run a tight ship in order to function smoothly through it. Staff has been shuffled to positions where they can be of the most benefit, and supplies are closely monitored.

A major challenge the Henry Ford Health Center has faced has been supporting staff callouts, particularly in housekeeping. According to Wright, staff members are afraid to come in and be exposed to COVID-19–or to take it home to their families.

Wright spends time every day looking at the health center’s supply chain, making calculations for upcoming needs based on the amount of PPE staff members are using. He maintains that more PPE supplies and medical equipment should be manufactured in the U.S. going forward, to prevent future supply chain disruptions in an event of this magnitude.

Wright has been President and CEO of Henry Ford Health Center since 2017. Previously, he served as President. Prior to joining the team at Henry Ford, he served as a Board Member at Quest Diagnostics, an Advisory Board Member at Arsenal Capital Partners, CEO at Alameda Health System, and Sr. VP Operations at JPS Health Network.

To hear the full conversation, click here.