People helping people

Group of people standing behind welcome sign
HR Group team onsite in Houston, assisting with the immediate needs of employees in the aftermath of the storms.

Human Resources teams provide virtual and on-the-ground aid and support

The transformation of the HCA Healthcare Human Resources Group was put to the test in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, showing the power of the HR Operations Center, the HCAhrAnswers platform, and the universal commitment to put the “human” in Human Resources.

Hurricanes tear through communities, upending lives and complicating even the most ordinary tasks: Getting home to see if your house is flooded. Getting bleach and other supplies to clean up storm damage. Finding transportation to work if your car’s out of commission. Figuring out how, and where, to report to work if your facility is closed.

And then there are the obstacles faced by those who want to help: How to volunteer in an affected area? Where to sign up to donate funds, or paid time off (PTO), to those areas?

The dedicated teams in the Human Resources Group worked nonstop before, during and after hurricanes Irma and Harvey to make sure HCA Healthcare employees had answers to all of these questions and access to all the information they needed to take next steps.  The quick, coordinated efforts of the Human Resources Group were made possible by the fact that HCA Healthcare’s human resources activities are consolidated into a streamlined, centralized operation so employees can access needed information and assistance easier. When the hurricanes hit and thousands of employees were in need of immediate HR assistance, that massive reinvention was tested — and passed with flying colors.

“Through the unified platform of HCAhrAnswers, we have a single system across all of HCA Healthcare,” says John Steele, senior vice president of the Human Resources Group. “That meant we weren’t wrestling with different payroll systems in different divisions, so people could get paid. It also meant that people who wanted to volunteer to go into the affected areas, give to the Hope Fund or donate some of their PTO to colleagues could get information on how to do all that from a single source.”

“Even with seeing photos of what Houston looked like before and after, and being told about the losses, it was still very emotional when we first met with our fellow employees there.”
De-Andrea Harris, 
HR Business Partner
MountainView Hospital, Las Vegas

Outreach efforts take many forms

One potential roadblock to providing assistance came in the form of the different types of damage wrought by the hurricanes. In Florida, the damage was primarily from wind, while in Houston the days of torrential rain caused flooding and more long-term access issues. At the same time, Houston is a smaller geographic area for outreach teams to access compared to most of the state of Florida. 

“We had two models: a virtual human resources center, where we created a one-stop shop to provide employees with answers to as many questions as possible,” Steele says. “The second was a physical presence — the buses we sent into Houston. They literally went from facility to facility over the course of two weeks, providing everything from EAP (employee assistance counselors) and Hope Fund contacts to basic cleaning and hygiene supplies, thanks to our collaboration with Supply Chain.”

“Our mission was to be the big red ‘Easy’ button for HCA Healthcare employees to get the assistance they needed.”
Regina Mabe, Senior HR Business Partner
Lewis Gale Hospital, Salem, Va.

The virtual center was key to being effective in Florida not just because of the number of facilities affected, but also the geographic spread of those entities.

Man speaking in front of PowerPoint presentation

HR Group team members from across HCA Healthcare raced to their colleagues in need in Texas and Florida, many staying for days and even weeks afterwards.

“We have surgery centers, physician practices, urgent care, regional labs, transfer and contact centers, some of which are not co-located with our hospitals, so we needed a solution that could reach everyone quickly,” explains Sissy Stevinson, vice president of human resource operations for HCA Healthcare’s Integrated Lines of Business.

“We knew a lot of these employees would have difficulty traveling to a hospital to meet with our team members or to pick up supplies, so we developed a virtual center that could be deployed to help them,” she says. “Providing a staffed resource center at a single call-in number made for an easy platform and access to a plethora of resources. For example, the contact center in Fort Myers, a hard-hit area, was 80 miles from the closest HCA Healthcare hospital, so a virtual option was convenient and timely for those in need. Our mission was to assist all employees in need.”

HCA Healthcare’s human-resources personnel know about employee needs, and dozens of them lined up to donate their time, expertise and compassion to their colleagues in need.

Vice president of operations Mason Deal found himself on one of several mobile teams that went to different locations over six days to help 300 employees and their families navigate the support channels that were open
to them.

“We worked from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, helping people find shelter, food, even drinking water,” Deal says.

“I went there thinking that I would help people in need — but not until you are in the situation do you really understand the magnitude of what happened to these people.”
Rolando Alvarez, 
HR Business Partner
Del Sol Medical Center, El Paso

Grateful colleagues spurred volunteers’ efforts

Molly Garrison’s team was at different facilities over time, so the vice president of human services for the Continental Division’s Integrated Lines of Business saw the devastation all across the city.

“We would talk about basic benefits, obtaining money, very essential things that people were having trouble with,” she says. “We wanted them to know that we were there to help — whatever they needed, we were going to try to make it happen. I don’t think any of us were prepared for the scope and intensity of what happened to those people,” she says. “From the Hope Fund to giving people bleach and cleaning supplies when the local stores were sold out, HCA Healthcare gave everything it had. I would get overwhelmed, but then I would see someone suffering who was still at work, showing up for their shift and caring for our patients. That kept me going.”

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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