The VOICE of UPMC Shadyside Winter 2020–2021

“They have been amazing.”

Sandra Rader, DNP, MSA, RN, NEA-BC
Chief Operations Officer, Chief Nursing Officer, and Vice President, Patient Care Services

 Leveraging the strengths of UPMC and UPMC Shadyside enabled our staff to care for patients safely and with special compassion during probably the most disruptive time in our long history,” says Sandra Rader. 

“Across the health system, everybody mobilized very, very quickly to put processes in place, to put communication in place, to really learn from each other. What we found in that initial March, April, and May 2020 period was that we quickly became one UPMC team. From reliable communication with all associates to the ability to secure personal protective equipment through 3D printing of COVID swabs to pay protection, I believe we did this well. We even were able to provide telemedicine support to understaffed ICUs in New York City.

"I feel confident in where we’re headed."
- Sandra Rader

“We do not just let things happen here. We make things happen proactively and in a very systematic and strong way. I feel confident in where we’re headed.

“My focus as chief nursing officer and COO was making sure that we had the right staff and that we educated our staff. We worked hard to communicate updates and recognize their work. I did a lot of rounding on our medical/surgical units and in our ICUs just making sure that staff knew that we support them.

“Our staff very much wanted to be in the know about where we were as a system. So we worked to over-communicate with them. At first, their questions were around, ‘Are we safe? How do we protect ourselves as we’re caring for these patients?’ Never once did I hear an inkling of ‘I don’t want to take care of these patients.’

“In the second phase, people asked, ‘Do we have enough PPE as a system?’ During that time frame too, our normal patient volumes dropped dramatically. So by the third week it was, ‘Am I going to get a paycheck? Will UPMC furlough staff?’

“All three of these fears were responded to pretty quickly. We took away their fears around, ‘How do you effectively and safely care for these patients?’ We took away their fears around, ‘Do we have enough PPE?’ Then UPMC kicked in and implemented a staffing and pay protection program, which ensured that all 91,000 employees continued to be paid at their current rate for normally scheduled hours through May 9, 2020. That gave staff a lot of assurance, a lot of confidence in their employer.

“This experience has made me grateful for the very talented and giving people at UPMC Shadyside and across our strong system. They have been amazing.”