During a time of crisis, individuals and organizations have a choice of how they will react and lead. It is an easy option to emotionally and physically shut down over situations that cannot be controlled. The other choice a person or organization can make is to become a leader amidst the waves of a storm. Leadership is a choice. Leaders must choose confidence and resolve. Leaders invest in positivity and dig deep to create opportunities that will shape the next phase of whatever the new “normal” will be.
COVID-19 has defined so many of our local businesses, individuals and Americans. When faced with the decision of how to react to the pandemic, locally owned business Charleston Oral and Facial Surgery chose to implement a community-centric business model and the results were immeasurable.
The surgeons and directors had to take a hard look at their business and decide if they would take the risk to remain open during an international pandemic. The team surveyed the metrics that were provided at the time by the ADA (American Dental Association) and the CDC and they made a unified decision to help their local community and assist those in need.
With the burden of the COVID-19 crisis laying heavy on the shoulders of the medical community, the Surgeons at COAFS felt that it was their civic duty to remain open to help and treat emergent oral surgery patients with no other place for these patients to go than an overburdened emergency room.
With quick action, the staff and team put into operation extreme safety procedures that would limit the chance of COVID-19 exposure to the staff and any emergent patient that would walk through the door. COAFS decided to also invest in technology. Their practice was one of the first offices in the area to offer virtual visits to help define a patient’s diagnosis level in the comfort of his or her own home. The schedulers required that all patients would register their information online and upon arrival, every patient was asked to remain in their automobile until the time of the set appointment to promote social distancing measures.
The staff was provided with proper personal protective equipment and the rooms were cleaned with medical-grade cleaner after each and every appointment. Every detail was considered, even down to the pens in the office. The patients were encouraged to keep their pen or place it in the return holder to be disinfected. Safety and care was the ultimate priority.
The overwhelming response and thanks of the community was unexpected. Patients were overjoyed and relieved with the surgeon’s decision to remain open when the stakes were high.
“I was in extreme pain and I was frightened for my health and safety. I did not want to enter an emergency room and expose myself to the virus. I had been healthy and at home up until that day but I didn’t know where to turn,” said patient, Alice Thornberg. “Once I discovered that Charleston Oral and Facial Surgery remained open and that they were taking extreme precautions, I was relieved. My surgery went without a hitch and I was overjoyed to be out of pain and with a new implant.”
The positive reaction from the community spurred the employees of COAFS to create ways to give back to a local community in need. The practice teamed up with national renowned author and life coach, Kim Johnson, to help local referrals Lead Through a Crisis through a company hosted webinar series. The director team shifted all of the marketing effort focus towards finding ways that would promote local philanthropy and bring necessary help to those that were most isolated.
The surgeons created the action, Adopt a Senior. COAFS teamed up with Sandpiper Senior Living Community and delivered essential items to seniors that were homebound or going through a difficult time. Many of our community’s seniors felt the negative effects of the crisis, whether that be the strains of isolation or not being allowed to visit a loved one receiving medical care. One of the enduring stories they encountered was that of Jay and Liz.
Jay’s wife, Liz, was in hospice and because of the coronavirus, he was not allowed to visit her. They missed each other terribly and the staff had hoped that they would be reunite. Jay and Liz celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary the week after their visit. COAFS chose to make efforts for people like Jay to not feel so alone during that time. Their own Dr. Strauss delivered a basket of “self-quarantine” goodies — word puzzles, snacks, soap, socks and more to help lift Jay’s spirits.
The staff also ran an internal canned food drive for the East Cooper Community Outreach Center and the VA Hospital and they personally delivered over 250 items to help with the local food bank shortage and collected and delivered pet supplies to local animal shelters in need.
The surgeons personally delivered material for the making of first responder masks to the Thrive Charleston Mask Force and arranged to provide lunch for first responders at the Roper St. Francis Hospital in Mount Pleasant. They made it their priority to thank every ER doctor, nurse, administrative staff member, cleaning crew, security and others who served the community during this crisis.
In a time when most individuals and businesses are reactive, Charleston Oral and Facial Surgery chose to be proactive. “Leadership and kindness are contagious. We chose to lead knowing the community was our priority,” said Dr. Oliphant.
It has been said that “no man is an island, entire of itself” and during the coronavirus pandemic that statement spoke truth like never before. We needed and still need each other. Leaders such as the staff at Charleston Oral and Facial Surgery went above and beyond in a remarkable fashion. This unique experience will forever be time stamped as a moment that defined a generation and created a new definition of leadership and community.
For more information about Charleston Oral and Facial Surgery call 843-762-9028 or visit them online at www.COAFS.com.