By ROBERT WILLIAMS
Published in This Week Community News
The impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has been wide-ranging and constantly changing, and it has altered how many of us function in the workplace.
At the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, our Residential Services Team provides direct services and assistance through our weatherization and home-repair programs. Our free services provide a key role in the sustainability of affordable housing units and reduced energy costs for those in our population who are at the highest risk.
As a result of the pandemic, we knew our interactions with the communities we serve would have to be modified dramatically. The question of how we would make the necessary changes while continuing to provide these services to individuals of the highest need was a formidable test.
The biggest challenge we faced as a department was to keep our employees and the clients that we serve safe and healthy while interacting with people in their homes during a worldwide pandemic.
As we sought solutions to address this complex issue, how we could achieve this goal came to us almost organically. If our primary focus at this time were to remain not on production but on maintaining the health and safety of our employees and clients, we undoubtedly would achieve success in both production and health and safety.
Our department leaned heavily on the Franklin County Public Health recommendations regarding personal protective equipment requirements, health and safety checks with our employees, proper sanitation of equipment and disposal of used PPE gear.
MORPC also took advantage of digital technology by instituting more paperless and touchless transactions and signing documents to decrease the chances of transmitting the coronavirus.
Multiple “dry run’ inspections were done in our office with a limited number of employees to ensure our new procedures worked in real time.
We created a written COVID-19 policy procedure that was direct but maintained flexibility for change in an uncertain environment.
Concise communication was prepared and disseminated to all awaiting clients to share how our processes would take place in this new, extraordinary environment of which we were all a part.
Creating and implementing these strategies were accomplished, all while integrating a new work-from-home policy for MORPC employees.
With the health and safety of our clients and employees as the primary focus of our COVID-19 procedures, MORPC created a living policy that allowed us to return to productive work that serves the members of our community who are experiencing the highest need.
Not only will this policy act as a guide for us during the current pandemic, but it also will lead us into the post-COVID era safer, healthier and more productive than ever.
Robert Williams is director of residential services for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. MORPC’s purpose is to bring communities of all sizes and interests together to collaborate on best practices and plan for the future of the region.