Imagine this: Your business has been open for only five months and is doing really well. Revenue is higher than expected and you are ahead of your projection — and then the world shuts down. Your clinic goes from taking care of 30 kids per day to one. You have spent over 15 years staying current on evidence-based medicine and suddenly a new virus hits your community and there are no proven treatments that work.
Kids are getting sick, adults are getting sick, grandparents are not leaving the hospital. Friends and family are lost, school is closed and parents are out of work. You cut back on your staff, attempt to avoid furloughs so your team can support their own families, and you yourself start to work seven days a week to keep your doors open. Yes, this was real. Welcome to the spring of 2020 at AcuteKids Pediatric Urgent Care.
While the past few years have been tough on everyone personally and professionally, we have witnessed some great life lessons during the process. At the beginning of the pandemic, we experienced great sacrifice from those around us. Our teachers learned how to teach our children virtually. Our children were taught to wear masks to not only protect themselves, but to protect others around them and their families at home. These acts of selflessness were great lessons for our children to see how we support each other during times of great turmoil and stress.
After a few months of Zoom school, the weather improved and we were able to get outside again. At AcuteKids, we experienced an incredible influx of children and their families for testing as we became one of the only “one-stop shops” that would test the whole family at one time. While wearing a face shield, mask, gloves and full gown is not pleasant for 10 hours of the day in warm weather, each one of our team members knew that this is what was necessary to keep our community safe. We continued to project resiliency to the world and nothing was going to stop our passion for pediatric care.
As the weather got cooler, we were the first Urgent Care to receive an in-office PCR machine. This allowed us to balance the school-mandated testing requirements with the surges of new variants, diagnosing Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), Influenza A&B and Sars-CoV-2 with one swab. This was a game-changer for our little patients who can’t hold still for more than a few seconds! We continued to face a significant influx of patients, sometimes seeing over 100 patients per day and not leaving for home until way after midnight. Encouraging patience and kindness among our families was a daily task as we continued to provide a light of hope to long days of isolation and quarantine. We also experienced our own challenges as our staff became ill or needed to stay home with sick children.
That following spring, fear of the pandemic turned to anger as our AcuteKids team members volunteered to provide vaccination to school-aged children and disabled/underserved Rochesterians. Limited availability, mixed with differences in opinion, again led to discussions of kindness and respect. Our children once again gained life lessons on how to serve others and they continued to wear masks in school to protect themselves and their families while attending in-person school.
Summer of 2021 was unusual as we began to experience significant surges of RSV, something very unusual for a virus that usually strikes in the winter seasons! Again, our PCR platform prevailed and we were able to provide a diagnosis within an hour and educate our parents on the expectations of recovery. On a few occasions, immediate action was needed as a patient would require transfer to the emergency department for admission to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit; however, our team never skipped a beat because this is what we do.
Some of you may have heard of a gentleman by the name of Simon Sinek and his TED talk that stimulated the business world many years ago. Sinek was a small-business owner, who began to discuss the importance of “The Why” and his Golden Circle.
For many years, business leaders have inspired their teams to think from the inside out —focusing on the real reason WHY they are in business rather than focus on what they do. Sinek states, “profit is a result” and “people don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.”
Since the day our doors opened in August 2019, I have spent a great deal of time encouraging my team to think about their “WHY.” During our darkest days of this pandemic as a business, team and community we have all come back to the same WHY, which is to serve others and provide the best pediatric care possible with patience, kindness and compassion. This is WHY we do what we do and if you have been to visit us it shows! Pandemic or not, our WHY will never change.
Chrysa Charno, PA-C, MBA, FCUCM is CEO/Clinical Director of AcuteKids Pediatric Urgent Care.d