“I need you to develop a business plan for COVID”

How I’ve faced 2020’s opportunities & challenges as a Compliance Officer...


February 19th, 2020 will be a date that sticks with me forever. I don't think I will ever forget the phone call from my Chief Executive Officer saying, “Bailey, I need you to develop a business plan for COVID.” It was a weight that immediately went on my shoulders.

The Chief Executive Officer’s confidence in my ability to lead this challenge, entrusting thousands of clients and hundreds of employees to the information I was gathering and dispensing, was a combination of feeling honored and terrified.

“How could I do this? We are statewide. There is limited guidance available. The guidance that is available keeps changing daily. We are an essential job function, how do I protect our clients? How do I protect our employees? How do I do all this while protecting my own family? While homeschooling my four young children?”

As I stated, I was terrified, but I was also determined. I began by developing a high-level plan and the questions I would need to ask the business leaders of the departments. I relied on being organized, calm and knowledgeable of the daily changes.

Looking back it, was the organization and calming presence that really made a difference while fielding hundreds of calls with different questions for every unique situation associated with being a voluntary foster care agency with detention facilities and preventative services. The agency’s Chief Executive Officer began a daily leadership meeting for effective communication and consideration across our large agency. (The agency had never felt as large as it did with having to plan for the safety of individuals across the whole of New York State.)

As we got into the heart of COVID, my colleagues, especially the Vice President of Human Resources, who had only been with the agency for 3 months at that point, began to take on key areas. With the organization and a base of Standard Operating Procedure templates I had created, the Vice President of Human Resources was able to take the ball and run with the daily COVID questions for employees and manage all of the employee leaves associated with COVID, and the Vice President of Facilities was able to take the cleaning Standard Operating Procedure for vehicles and find ways to obtain the cleaning supplies needed despite the shortages. The Chief Programming Officer took the lead on ensuring effective communication between the programmatic leads to ensure consistency in COVID responses and safety plans.

When our agency’s COVID base was strong, despite having limited time resources, I coordinated Risk Management discussions with multiple Voluntary Foster Care agencies. We discussed best practices, identified risks associated with HIPAA violations, confidentiality concerns, and continuing operations if the workforce were to contract COVID. We didn’t always have answers to the questions we asked, but asking them resulted in valuable considerations.

COVID has been a trying, exhausting time, and we are not out of it. However, our team and our agency shone brightly in this darkness. We didn't compromise our mission statement maintaining the needs of our clients, protecting and supporting our staff, and equally as important supporting each other as leaders.

To those going through a challenge, my advice to you is to develop a strong base through the organization of the knowledge available. Maintain calm. Embrace your team recognizing the various strengths and ask the questions you need to ask. It isn't reasonable to think you will have all the answers, but you certainly can ask the questions.

Bailey Naples
Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth

 


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