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COVID-19 Behind-the-Scenes Heroes

From Information Technology to Pharmacy Services, departments throughout Kaiser Permanente Northern California have provided critical support to front-line health care professionals.

Setting up the necessary technology at COVID-19 testing tents, scrubbing every surface inside hospital rooms of COVID-19 patients, processing and mailing thousands of additional prescriptions — these are just some of the contributions Kaiser Permanente employees have made since the pandemic hit in March.

“Without the important work of our heroes behind the scenes, we wouldn’t be able to fight COVID-19 like we have,” said Tom Hanenburg, interim regional president, Northern California, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan.

Departments including Information Technology (IT), Environmental Services (EVS), Clinical Technology, and Pharmacy Services, among others, have worked faster and longer hours to help Kaiser Permanente in the battle against COVID-19.

A Lab, Medical Equipment, and Technology

In Berkeley, about 70 construction workers raced to convert a Kaiser Permanente warehouse into a $14-million, 7,700-square-foot lab that will be able to process 10,000 COVID-19 tests per day. The lab was under construction 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and was finished ahead of schedule and under budget in time to open June 1, said Scott Tibbetts, executive director of Kaiser Permanente Northern California Service Delivery.

“A typical job like this would take at least 15 months,” Tibbetts said. “This has been an amazing example of partnership and collaboration.”

Next door to the new lab, teams of employees in the Department of Clinical Technology have been working tirelessly over the past 2 months to procure, assemble, and deploy medical equipment across Northern California to accommodate nearly 1,300 extra hospital beds, as part of a region-wide surge planning, said Jacob Johnson, director of Clinical Systems Engineering.

Teams of IT professionals across Northern California have helped set up technology solutions for Kaiser Permanente employees who transitioned to work from home under the Temporary Remote Work program. So far, they have issued over 4,700 laptops and desktop computers, and are fulfilling more requests as they come in.

In addition, IT employees have been supporting the implementation of nearly 700 devices needed for Northern California triage tents and other surge planning efforts.

Mail-Order Prescriptions, Clean Buildings

Employees at the Kaiser Permanente Mail Order and Pharmacy Call Center in Livermore have been working overtime to accommodate a 28% increase in calls for mail-order prescriptions and critical information requests. The number of calls increased from about 7,000 per day at the beginning of the year to about 9,000 calls per day, said Derek Dwinell, director of Outpatient Pharmacy and Centralized Pharmacy Services.

As a result, 57% of the prescriptions are now being delivered by mail across Kaiser Permanente Northern California, up from 32% at the beginning of the year, Dwinell said.

About 2,345 EVS employees across Northern California had to intensify their routines to make sure that the 472 buildings they are responsible for are cleaned properly, said Gina Coco, Support Services Administrator at the Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center.

Coco said that it usually takes no more than 30 minutes to clean a patient’s discharge room, while the room of a COVID-19 positive patient can take at least 90 minutes.

“The difference in the cleaning that the EVS workers have to do is not easy,” Coco said. “Every single surface from the floor to the ceiling has to be cleaned, while wearing full personal protective equipment.”

“Without the important work of our heroes behind the scenes, we wouldn’t be able to fight COVID-19 like we have,” said Tom Hanenburg, interim regional president, Northern California, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan. “We thank every employee for their hard work and dedication during this unprecedented time.”



This Post Has 5 Comments

    1. Thank you! I stayed in the Vallejo hospital for 3 or 4 days at the end of June. In the emergency room and the hospital room ALL were wonderful!

  1. It’s impossible to list every single person or group who has stood up to respond to this pandemic. Let’s show appreciation in any way we can – maybe more patience, or ensuring we use hand sanitizer at every opportunity, or maintaining that little extra distance from others.

  2. My hat’s off to you guys and gals (but my mask is still on).
    Good job keeping our patients safe!

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