Gov. Herbert Leads Healthcare Roundtable Discussion

Pete CodellaArticles, COVID-19

The recent governor’s roundtable discussion held on May 12, 2020, looked a lot different from previous roundtable quarterly meetings held with industry executives.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Herbert engaged with leaders from the healthcare community virtually via Zoom. The Governor’s Healthcare Roundtable, organized by GOED’s Business Services team, provided the governor and his economic development team with keen insight into the current healthcare crisis.

“Healthcare is important in our state for a variety of reasons, number one being that the healthcare sector is one of the largest employers in Utah,” said Val Hale, executive director at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). “Healthcare plays an increasingly more important role in our lives.” 

The nearly two-hour discussion focused on challenges the healthcare industry is facing as well as best practices. Topics included:

How healthcare organizations are affected by COVID-19, and ways they are confronting those economic challenges.

  • Attendees reiterated how stopping elective surgeries has negatively impacted their bottom line
  • Telehealth visits are increasing because of apprehension about in-person doctor visits
  • Michael Good, M.D. and CEO at the University of Utah Health, stated the importance of understanding peoples’ living environment, work environment and medical conditions and staying ahead of the curve
  • COVID-19 testing is crucial in detection and antibody testing; healthcare organizations have the capacity but need the tools
  • Protecting healthcare workers is a top priority

Morale of the healthcare workforce.

  • The healthcare workforce is demonstrating its resilience, and leaders want to take care of their employees
  • Many organizations have not had to furlough employees
  • Several healthcare entities are now cross-training employees to perform different roles 

Experiences with obtaining necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).

  • There was a consensus that hospitals and clinics have enough PPE
  • Donna Milavetz, an administrator with Steward Health, said that community masking needs to be normalized, and public figures in Utah should promote masking
  • Public-private partnerships in Utah continue to be important

Gov. Herbert concluded the discussion by sharing that Utah is faring better than most states, data and statistics drive public health and there is no such thing as zero risk.