Other Duties as Required: The other roles of Hospital Emergency Managers during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Other Duties as Required
The other roles of Hospital Emergency Managers during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Many of us often see on job postings “Other Duties as Required” listed after the typical description of our position. I know from my own experience that this has typically meant performing roles or tasks others do not want to do (managing a policy library was my unfortunate assignment). However, this pandemic has shown that this phrase truly means ensuring the continuity of operations and the importance of our role within our respective organizations.

Over the course of the past 16 months of pandemic planning and response in Ontario’s hospitals, emergency managers have performed a variety of tasks both within their normal scope of operations as well as outside.
Supporting hospital emergency operation centres, developing emergency surge planning, and conducting exercises have all been routine duties to help our hospitals function under incredible pressure. This is often in addition to maintaining existing emergency management programs when possible as emergencies rarely wait in line.

In addition to these activities, most emergency managers have stepped up to ask, “how can I help?” and performed a variety of jobs to help deal with reoccurring staffing shortages and other pressures. Many of us have taken on roles such as screeners, manning the phones in call centres, helping design and manage testing centres or vaccine clinics, and even assisting in assembling medical equipment needed on the frontlines. These are just a handful of the various jobs performed outside the typical scope of our day-to-day work.

Regardless of the task, executing these other duties has played an important role in response to COVID-19. It has brought a new perspective to the jobs we are often assigned outside our portfolio, especially those working in the healthcare sector.

Throughout this entire pandemic experience and managing the vast array of duties, it truly goes to show that emergency managers need to be ready for anything.

Andrew Moull, OAEM Membership Director