Dear Colleagues,

This is a concerning time as we see the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to increase in the community and at Denver Health. You may have heard that the City and County of Denver is moving to a Safer at Home Level 3, meaning there are more restrictions on businesses and restaurants. There could be further restrictions if cases keep climbing. We all must do our part to protect ourselves and others by social distancing, wearing masks and washing our hands.

While the surge in cases is troubling, Denver Health is currently in a much better place to handle the increase than we were in the spring. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of many people across the hospital, we will be better prepared as this surge continues through the winter. As you may know, we monitor our personal protective equipment (PPE) levels daily. Based on our current usage, our supply is stable and we are working to buy as much additional PPE as possible.

We are also taking positive steps to address staffing shortages and quickly fill vacant positions by speeding up the hiring process for nurses and other staff. In the past three months, we have hired 582 staff members, including 129 registered nurses (RNs), 95 certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and many other support personnel. Additionally, we have hired 57 traveling nurses, nurses who come from around the country to fill open positions in critical and acute care. We also are now using a Critical Staffing Incentive (CSI) to pay for inpatient RN and CNA staff who pick up additional CSI shifts. With these initiatives, we hope to have enough staff support to continue to provide the best care possible for our community and, hopefully, to avoid mandated on-call shifts for inpatient staff.

Other activities to prepare for the surge includes carefully considering whether we perform elective surgeries and reactivating our Virtual Hospital at Home program. We will also monitor clinic volumes to determine if we need to adjust these as cases surge.

I’d like to thank all the bright minds and dedicated staff that have helped get Denver Health to this level of preparedness.

Healthy Families and Workplaces

The new Healthy Families and Workplaces law provides employees with up to two weeks of paid time off for a COVID-related absence between July 15, 2020 and December 31, 2020. Click here to read about the law and learn how to apply for benefits. Here's the application.

If you have any questions after reviewing this information, send an email to the Leave of Absence Office at LOAFMLprocess@dhha.org.

Kick-Off to Create Blueprint for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Plan

While we have been engaged in a number of initiatives to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in our organization, work officially begins this week to create a three-year blueprint to guide initiatives at Denver Health. I am leading this work, with the assistance of The Equity Project, a firm that specializes in this area, with the guidance of a newly appointed Steering Committee, made up of Denver Health physicians, researchers, leaders and employees. The project will use focus groups, surveys and stakeholder interviews to uncover our strengths and areas of opportunities as we work to make sure Denver Health provides equitable and inclusive care for our patients, employees and community.

This effort will build on the important work that is already happening at Denver Health thanks to the many staff and faculty who have been championing this work over the years.

Three Good Things

Check out the real stories of our front line workers. The moving video tributes honor the thousands of Denver Health employees who are heroically serving our patients during the pandemic. We support you, we are grateful for you, and we honor you.

Congratulations to Audrey Vincent, administrative director of behavioral health services, for receiving the Nightingale Award. The award honors nurses who advance the nursing profession and positively impact their community through advocacy, leadership and innovation.

Welcome Faraz Khan, Denver Health’s new chief financial officer. She joins us from the University of California San Francisco where she served as chief accounting officer.

Thanks for all you do,

Robin D. Wittenstein, Ed.D., FACHE
Chief Executive Officer

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