In order for a healthcare player like the LNS to fulfil its central role in times of crisis, many competencies are required. At the centre of it all, of course, are the different health experts. However, their contribution to the handling of the COVID-19 crisis would not have been possible without expertise in the fields of Human Resources, Information Technology, Infrastructure & Logistics and Finance.
The LNS is all about people. On the one hand, there are patients, whose well-being depends on a functioning health system. On the other hand, there are the more than 360 experts with 20 different nationalities who work at the LNS to ensure that patients receive the best possible care. While the focus on people is certainly what drives the team, COVID-19 did bring about unforeseen challenges in several areas – and they were handled quickly, creatively, and professionally.
|“The first lockdown in mid-March 2020 was a new situation for everyone,” reflects Alessandra Lanfranconi, in charge of Human Resources, on the days that changed the world – and the LNS. “Nevertheless,” she continues, “the LNS was prepared for what came next: we had already set up a crisis team before the lockdown, which worked out a concrete plan – in meetings that often went on until late in the evening – on how we could continue to fulfill our mission under the new conditions. HR naturally played a central role in this, since it is our people who fulfill this mission.”
One of the very first tasks at the time was to determine who would work on-site at the LNS in the following weeks and months, and who would work from home. Alessandra Lanfranconi: “What looks simple and logical in retrospect is the outcome of a very well thought analysis process and a constructive team consultation, carried out in the spring of 2020. It was clear from the outset, that our virology team would play a central role in the fight against the virus. The question that arose after that was which other departments would be essential in this fight, and how to ensure service delivery, including the underlying processes that needed to be adjusted while remaining compliant with governance and organizational frameworks.”
Whether from a home office or a laboratory, a raft of mammoth organisational and administrative hurdles had to be overcome literally overnight. Quite a challenge for the HR team at the LNS, not least in pushing boundaries and treading new ground in terms of its competences, as Alessandra Lanfranconi explains: “Due to the lockdown, drastic changes were imminent for the whole of society, which also affected us as an employer. The issue of special leave for parents, for example, was a central topic, especially at the beginning. In addition, we also had to face specific challenges in providing tailor made and individualised support to colleagues, for example because working from home and social distancing were completely new and unexpected experiences, to which every person reacted differently.”
In addition to managing existing staff, recruiting and selecting new staff was an even more critical task than usual for the HR team at the LNS in 2020, as there was an urgent need to attract qualified professionals to strengthen the virology team, for example. According to Alessandra Lanfranconi, this actually turned out to be surprisingly simple, especially as the team and candidates adapted fast and turned to new, “pandemic-friendly” methods: “Just as in the day-to-day cooperation within the entire LNS team, we also consistently relied on digital means to communicate with our potential new recruits. The interviews simply took place online via video conference. This was very quickly accepted as “normal”, and above all efficient, after an initial adjustment period.”
In any case, Alessandra Lanfranconi sees adaptability as one of the distinct strengths of the entire team, which led to the LNS being able to position itself clearly as a pillar of the modern Luxembourg health system during the coronavirus crisis: “March 2020 was a sort of “Fall of the Berlin Wall” moment, where it was important to recognise the signs of the times and respond very fast. We at the LNS succeeded in doing this in a sustainable way. Many of our colleagues have taken up the fight against the virus as a personal mission, with extraordinary and impressive resolve and engagement, against all odds. And as a team, we managed to rally around and translate into practice our vision, namely to serve together proudly to deliver excellence in health care, even under unimaginable circumstances. We are ever mindful of and saddened by the loss and suffering that the pandemic caused in the world and at the same time we appreciate the positive changes and innovation it triggered and that that are clearly here to stay, particularly in the way in which we work together.”
Download the LNS Annual Report 2020: https://lns.lu/publication/annual-report-2020/