The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 affected all of our personnel. In nursing, the pandemic necessitated personnel transfers and retraining. Many of our employees switched to remote work for almost the entire year.

Retraining and personnel transfers

The coronavirus pandemic caused a sudden need for additional competence and personnel, particularly in intensive care and its support functions and on the wards.

In spring 2020, we retrained some 600 nursing employees for intensive care nursing and support duties. The intensive care training was given as simulation training, online courses and bedside training. The nursing staff who underwent the retraining were mainly operating room nurses and anesthesia nurses. We also shared our training and induction model and the teaching material with other hospital districts and other parties caring for coronavirus patients.

There was a need for training and induction not only for nursing staff but also in support functions, because more personnel than usual was needed for the maintenance, upkeep and cleaning of the isolation facilities and equipment used for the care of coronavirus patients. Concentrating coronavirus care at the Surgical Hospital also required a training and induction course.

New procedures needed to be adopted, and hence personnel retrained, with the introduction of coronavirus sampling at drive-in facilities and at border crossing points. Personnel from sampling and other functions were transferred to coronavirus testing, and we also recruited new sampling personnel.

Caring for coronavirus patients required a reallocation of physician resources to intensive care units and coronavirus wards. At intensive care units, we reorganized everyday routines and emergency routines for physicians because of the greatly increased number of patients in intensive care. We concentrated more physician capacity on the coronavirus hospital and in the care of coronavirus patients, drawing on other functions and, for part of the year, from other departments.

Designing and delivering major personnel reassignments and functional changes required smooth and close collaboration and cooperation with personnel representatives. The coronavirus situation and its impacts on employees were discussed at local-level negotiations at HUS on an almost weekly basis at the height of the crisis. In the course of the year, we implemented a number of temporary solutions, for instance in respect of operating procedures and reimbursement, from quarantine practices to extra shifts and postponement of holidays.

Many jobs switched to remote work

The extraordinary circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic had widespread effects on how employees performed their job duties. In accordance with Government recommendations, we instructed employees to switch to remote work whenever their job duties allowed.

Indeed, a majority of the employees for whom it was possible given the nature of their job duties and equipment worked from home from March to December. All meetings were provided with a remote connection. Indeed, HUS took a digital leap in working practices practically overnight.

We simplified the currently valid permanent directive on remote work administratively, and in the course of the year we also updated the remote work instructions on the basis of experiences gained. In administrative duties, remote work was undertaken by a majority of employees very quickly.

Remote work and remote management did not show up in the Working Life Barometer circulated in autumn 2020, at least not as a detrimental factor. Remote work allowed us to minimize the impact of coronavirus quarantines on our operations.