How QTC, a Leidos Company, established practical measures for COVID-19 prevention
As many contemplate how to return to work safely, this week's MindSET explains what proactive and preventative measures one company has taken to protect employees and customers from the transmission of COVID-19.
QTC, a Leidos company and the largest provider of medical disability and occupational health exam services in the United States, has continued to operate throughout the coronavirus pandemic to deliver its mission-critical services.
In this special podcast episode, Grant Kim, CEO of QTC, describes the practical measures they're taking in both clinical and densely populated office settings to ensure not only their staff's safety but the safety of their examinees too.
QTC has been implementing practical measures since the end of February - getting to practically zero transmission while still operating during this time of crisis. Grant credits their culture and innovation of their employees, who figured out ways to proactively implement prevention measures early on so that QTC could continue delivering their services safely.
"I think what we're most proud of as we reflect back on the month of March, where we performed well over 50,000 exams across 90 clinics throughout the country, we've had not one reported incident of infection between the veteran, staff, and providers."
On today's podcast:
- Why the work at QTC is mission-critical
- What measures QTC took early on to mitigate the spread of the virus in both clinics and their densely populated office environment
- The importance of being able to adapt, improvise and overcome
- How QTC built confidence and combatted anxieties surrounding facing the unknown
- Four key aspects of their management plan for dealing with COVID-19 going forward
Grant Kim: We've had not one reported instance of infection between a veteran, staff and providers. If you put these very proactive safety measures in place and you exercise them robustly, the transmission of this virus can be managed.
Bridget Bell: Welcome to MindSET, a Leidos podcast. I'm your host, Bridget Bell.
Meghan Good: And I'm your host, Meghan Good. Join us as we talk with pioneers in science, engineering, and technology to understand their creative mindset and share their stories of innovation.
Meghan Good: Welcome to MindSET. It's Monday, April 13th, and we're speaking with Grant Kim, Chief Executive Officer for QTC, a Leidos company and the largest provider of disability and occupational health exam services. QTC has more than 90 locations across the country to provide medical, disability, and occupational health services, and they've applied practical measures since the end of February in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meghan Good: Throughout our conversation, we were hearing lots of examples of what other companies could do and what QTC has done, and the incredible results that they've seen so far, getting to practically zero transmission, while still operating during this time of crisis. They said that it's their culture and their own community that figured out a way to do it, and they deliver their services safely.
Bridget Bell: And I really enjoyed when Grant describes the measures they've taken in both the clinical and densely populated office settings in order to mitigate the spread to really keep their employees, the practitioners, the examinees, veterans all safe. And I know typically on this podcast, we don't talk about topics that the timeline is incredibly important, but today, Grant goes through how they really started some of these preventative measures ahead of the curve. And I think that timeline is really important in this conversation.
Meghan Good: I agree and it also shows a lot of the degree of innovation and agility that they showed. He credits his former military background in training and a lot of the staff there too, and that their emphasis is that not everything ever goes per textbook, so you have to adapt and overcome, and you really see that in the kinds of measures that they put in place. Having tissues and face masks so early, and all the PPE, and finding a way to combat what was unknown, and all the anxiety and fear, and come out of this situation with a lot of confidence about how to built a better office that operates safely even in these infections.
Meghan Good: Before we get started with our conversation, I want to point out that Grant shared the best practices that have worked for his company in this interview. These are not meant to be guidance on what could work for all organizations and scenarios. Every organization needs to consider what approaches make sense within their cultures, specific business processes, and appropriate internal stakeholders.
Meghan Good: So, with that, let's get into the conversation with Grant Kim to learn more about what QTC has done in response to COVID-19.
Meghan Good: Welcome, Grant.
Grant Kim: Hello. Thanks for having me.
Meghan Good: Let's start with a brief introduction about your current role and background.
Grant Kim: I've been with QTC now for about 16 years. My current role is Chief Executive Officer for four years. I actually started my professional career as an air force officer, so I went to the Air Force Academy, was commissioned as an officer, served for five years, honorably discharged, then went into a private sector. But following a number of other opportunities, again I joined QTC back 16 years ago, primarily serving in operational roles. I actually because a chief operating officer in the current role I am in today, again, for the last four years.
Meghan Good: I know QTC provides disability and occupational health exams primarily to veterans. These veterans have made sacrifices for our country, which often result in disabilities, so they've earned various medical benefits. Keeping that in mind, can you tell us a little bit more about QTC and why your work is considered mission critical?
Grant Kim: Primarily what we do at QTC is provide medical exams out of our 90 plus clinics nationwide. And our clinics look and operate very similar to a primary care clinic that any of us would walk into for ourselves or for our family. The difference is our clinics are designed specifically for veterans and some of our other agency customers, but primarily veterans. That's the largest group of folks that we service. And the reason why our business has always been deemed mission critical, and a few of the government shutdowns that we've had over the several years, we've been categorized as mission critical is because veterans require our exams in order to gather the medical evidence, which helps them adjudicate their claims or get their benefits granted, right?
Grant Kim: And many veterans require those benefits for life-sustaining activities, right? We've got veterans that are homeless or close to homeless that require those checks, those benefit checks, as well as we've got terminally ill veterans that are looking to get their status finalized in order to pass on their benefits to their dependent spouses. So, that's one of the main reasons why we're considered mission critical and why we've continued to operate under this crisis.
Meghan Good: Thinking back, we're in mid-April right now, and if you go back to mid-March, and it feels like it's the longest month in a long time, right? But as you think back on that month, what were those early first steps in your clinics that you used to control the spread?
Grant Kim: We had two environments that we had to figure out a controlled spread. We had our administrative offices, and if you can visualize, it's what's you'd see in kind of a high density type call center, right? The second environment that we had was our clinics where you had a lot of interactions between veterans who are examinees, our medical systems, basically our medical staff, and then finally our providers, our examiners. So, the common practice was to put a sign on the door and also do some screening when you checked in. The basic were, "Hey, have you traveled to a high risk location recently? Are you exhibiting any type of flu-like symptoms?"
Grant Kim: And if you were, they would either ask you to wear a mask or they would have you go see another provider or just not enter the facility. Well, again, that type of practice presents some risk, especially if the person's asymptomatic or if the person considers their situation unrelated to the virus, right? Coronavirus. Many people would justify in their minds, "Hey, I have allergies routinely. This is kind of allergy season, so that's probably what it is. It's not the virus."
Grant Kim: So, what we realized is where these kind of holes are with that type of practice. Very early on, we started thinking about how do we start to mandate screening, right? So, we had different layers. So, for the VA, our veterans and those exams, we actually started screening them at the point of the appointment phone call. So, when we called and scheduled the appointment, we were asking screening questions to make sure that, one, they weren't exhibiting these types of symptoms that could pose risk to others, and two, we started adopting the principle of screening them for their own personal risk situation, right? Were they in this category where they had underlying conditions, which would present a risk to them if they showed up at our clinic?
Grant Kim: So, we certainly didn't want those individuals coming to our clinic as well. The second opportunity for us was some screening and some reminders with a reminder phone call, you know? QTC, again, like many other medical practices, we would provide our veterans a reminder phone call 48 hours prior to the exam. And then finally, again, before the appointment, we send out appointment letters. That's a requirement for all of our examinees through the VA is that they receive a hard copy letter of the appointment and appointment details. So, in that package we also included screening material as well.
Grant Kim: But we didn't stop there because again, we wanted to make sure that we mitigated any possible risk of somebody either infecting others or somebody that's coming in that was in kind of this vulnerable class, right? So, we started applying different procedures at our clinic based on the availability of supplies, as well as configuration of the actual office. Well, we started considering things like shutting down the waiting rooms and having our examinees show up, our veterans show up, notify that they've come, but have them wait in the car. We would either then do mandated screening for all of our veterans, either outside the doors of the clinic, or we would set up these kind of isolation zones in the waiting room since we didn't have people waiting in our clinics or we distanced people in our waiting rooms. So, we would have these kind of isolation zones in the waiting rooms to again screen the veterans.
Grant Kim: And the screening included all of the questionnaires, but then we started elevating the screening methods to include temperature checks and things of that nature. And once the screening was completed and the veteran was approved to proceed with the exam, we started adopting practices like having the veteran themselves sanitize their hands, either by taking them to a washing station or using hand sanitizer. And where the equipment permitted, having veterans don a mask, whether they asymptomatic or not. At that point in time, if there was any symptoms, we would ask the veteran to return home and we would look at reschedule opportunities and that was what's most important is the safety of our veterans, the safety of our staff, and safety of our providers.
Grant Kim: So, when we look back on this practice, again, this practice evolved over time. We try to make it as consistent across the board across all of our teammates, but that's not always possible, especially when you're moving so rapidly. But we were successful in going beyond kind of the basic screening that most health facilities were doing at that time. And I think what we're most proud of is when we reflect back on the month of March, where we performed well over 50,000 exams, again, across 90 clinics throughout the country, we've had not one reported instance of infection between a veteran, staff, and provider. Right?
Grant Kim: And during that time, we have had four of staff members go out because of either confirmed positive tests or presumed infection. But again, even with those incidences, we did not have one reported transmission. So, I think that goes to demonstrate how if you put these very proactive safety measures in place, you exercise them robustly that the transmission of this virus can be managed.
Bridget Bell: That is incredible and those numbers are just staggering to have over 50,000 interactions and not have a single transmission in the month of March. And we definitely want to dig into more of the results in a bit, but I want to go back to you talked about the two different environments, the clinics, but also the densely populated office environment. And I think a lot of our listeners are going to be interested in that, wondering, "When I go back to my office, what could it look like?" Or, "How could we handle this?"
Bridget Bell: So, I'm curious in that office setting, what did QTC do to limit the spread of the coronavirus?
Grant Kim: That's a very important point. We have three large administrative offices. One in the Los Angeles area, one in San Antonio, Texas, another one in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In each one of these offices, it would be what you would imagine any type of corporate environment, right? With 150 to 300 employees in each one of these offices. Relatively dense in terms of how they're configured. You'll have some management offices, but primarily there are a lot of cubicles, right?
Grant Kim: So, that posed a whole different challenge in that in that office space, you didn't have the clinical protective, personally protective equipment that you did in our clinics. So, when the situation started to intensify, our first action was to move as many people off-site as possible, purely to decrease the density. And the reason why we couldn't move everybody off-site because the nature of our work, again, is very unique in that wasn't possible. Not all of our employees work with laptops to where we can put a directive out there the very next day, saying, "Hey, everybody work from home using your laptops and your computers and your cell phone." That just wasn't possible.
Grant Kim: For example, again, looking at the veterans as our primary customer, each veteran that comes to QTC with an exam comes with an average of 1,500 to 2,000 digital pages of medical records that need to be processed, right? So, you can't take that type of requirement to process an appointment and just simply move it off-site. One, because of security, because you're working with private health information. And two, because the volume or the size of that, essentially PDF file that needs to be manipulated remotely, and having inconsistent wireless connection depending on the employee's home posed a lot of challenges.
Grant Kim: The first step was to decrease the density, spread people out, and then make sure that not only do you spread people out, but as you do, you look for natural partitions. So, obviously cubicles afforded a certain level of partition, so that if you had people sitting six feet next to each other, as long as there was a partition in between them, then that decreased the risk. Or if there wasn't a partition and you had people sitting kind of in that six feet range or a little bit more, you would turn their desks so they're facing opposite each other. So, we started taking those measures.
Grant Kim: And then we started propping open doors. We put tissue stations at every door. We shut down the use of common areas as much as we could. So, we started applying those principles. We started monitoring our employees. As I mentioned, we also issued cloth masks that all employees had to wear. And the way we used the masks was, again, whether they were symptomatic or not, it was mandatory for every single employee. And the idea there wasn't using the mask to filter the virus because we knew that the type of mask that people were using wasn't scientifically or certified to filter the virus. We simply wanted to prevent the transmission from when people talk, sneeze, and cough.
Grant Kim: So, the rules that we started to set in place was before you walked into the building, you have to put on a mask. Any time you're walking around in a common area, you have to have your mask on. Any time you're having a conversation with somebody where there isn't a physical partition, for example, a glass cubicle partition, you had to have a mask on, right? Really, the only where you were allowed to remove your mask was if you were in your office where you're isolated or you're isolated within your cubicle environment and you're on the phone or when you're eating. And we also, we designed out eating space so anywhere we had common eating space with tables, we separated all the tables, one chair per table, and we made sure that the chairs faced into walls, right? So, that again, you're limiting the exposure to individuals by having them face away from each other.
Grant Kim: And out of our offices, similar to the result that I mentioned in the month of March out of our clinics, we had similar type of results. But again, the interactions were very different. So, for example, our two largest offices, one in Philadelphia, as well as the other one in Los Angeles, more specifically San Dimas, we eventually had infection within. And we knew that was just a matter of time, especially as the infection rate grew within the country. And in both offices, starting mid-March and another incident in late March, an employee came in, they were sick, they were coughing, fortunately they were wearing masks, and they were asked to leave. And amazingly in one incident, we actually had an employee return after seeing a doctor and the doctor gave them the green light to come back to work. But when they came back to work, they were still exhibiting symptoms, they were coughing, so we sent them back home.
Grant Kim: Both employees eventually contacted us after getting tests and confirmed they were COVID positive. So, immediately when we got those confirmations, we began the process of identifying potential exposures through contact tracing. So, how did these two offices where you're talking a total of well over 200 employees that were potentially impacted through contact tracing, we were able to narrow it down to 15 employees, right? Again, combining both locations. And we placed those employees into 14 days of self-quarantine at home, and amazingly, after that 14 day time period for both locations, there was not one positive transmission of the virus.
Grant Kim: We eventually adopted a second mission, right? Our primary mission as a business is delivering high quality, timely medical exam services and ensure customer service. So, we adopted a second mission with the business, which is that we can't control who comes into our facility with an infection, but the mission of the organization with respect to COVID-19 is to ensure zero transmission. So, that's the mission we took upon ourselves as a leadership team to continue to implement these practices and more importantly, monitor the practices to make sure that they were being followed.
Meghan Good: So, Grant, I wonder what made QTC, besides being a mission critical company and the work that you do, what made you guys enact all of these steps so quickly? Why did you take it so seriously and then how did you escalate it so quickly?
Grant Kim: It's just the culture of our organization and the way our leadership thinks in terms of always having our examinees' safety and security in our forethought, right? Our veterans, our staff, our providers. And the fact that we are mission critical and that we're so broadly distributed, and depending on the office, we had a lot of employees that were traveling overseas, either for personal or business reasons. All of those things just gave us a really, really heightened sense of concern very early on. Before it really started making an impact here in the states, we started having these concerns, and I think that's really what started driving the thought process.
Grant Kim: So, back in late February, we started considering table-top exercises to think about what happens if the infection finally starts to take hold in the United States, how do we potentially see it spreading in different regions? How do we see that impact in our different clinics and our locations? What about our supplies? So, we were able to actually stock up on a lot of our supplies, especially the critical clinical supplies early before the inventory started shutting down, right? Before the supplies started dwindling throughout the country.
Grant Kim: Then we quickly started thinking about, "Well, we have our clinical supplies, our hand sanitizers, those type of things pretty well stocked. Well, what about computer equipment?" Right? So, we knew that we couldn't move a lot of our employees off-site immediately, but we had an opportunity with some of our administrative employees. So, do we have enough laptops? Let's get another 100 laptops on order just in case, right? Those can be reabsorbed by the organization later on.
Grant Kim: So, we started going through these desktop exercises. We started analyzing things like the impact to the business. If something starts to happen, how do we continue to sustain our business as long as possible? We started having regular meetings. We put a task force in place and luckily, we have some very, very thoughtful commissions on staff, right? And these are people that clearly understood science, understood how to use a mask, and when to use a mask, and what's appropriate in the traditional setting, but also wants to think innovatively about, "Well, what happens when supplies start dwindling or when we're trying to decrease the infection?"
Grant Kim: I think the other thing that was unique about our organization is that not only do we support a lot of service members and veterans in the very work that we do, but many of the members of the leadership team are former military, right? And in our military training, the emphasis is that not everything goes per the textbook. So, when something happens, you have to be able to adapt, improvise, and overcome. And this is a classic representation of that where there's so much unknown, so much anxiety, and so much fear, and there wasn't, again like I'd mentioned, a textbook you could grab off the shelf that tells you how to operate a business in a pandemic.
Grant Kim: So, we quickly realized, "Let's take the science that's available. Let's take the best practices that are available, but quickly think creatively about things that we can do to protect ourselves, protect our staff, protect our providers, protect our examinees, veterans, but continue to keep the business operating." I think it's really that mindset, as well as our background, as well as just the work that we've been in that really helped drive the urgency, and allow us to put these practices in place quickly. And again, in today's environment, a week seems like forever, but put these things in place two, three weeks before they were broadly debated then accepted at a national level.
Meghan Good: So, in these uncertain times, in these office settings that are densely populated and that you might share with other tenants, how did you address that with all of the other companies and tenants surrounding you who might be looking at QTC and saying, "What are you doing? Why are you still working?" And getting some of those criticisms?
Grant Kim: I think in most the space where we share the building with other tenants, most of the companies around us are aware of what we do, right? And how critical it is, how critical what we do is for a veteran that's waiting to receive benefits. These folks really need our service, right? And many of the people around us kind of understand that. But we had this one incident out of one of our regional offices, either a tenant or somebody reported that QTC continued to work, right? And that given the nature of our work and we're configured, we might not be practicing some of those social distancing type requirements to keep everybody safe.
Grant Kim: So, bottom line, we actually had the city health inspector knock on door, come unannounced and wanted to inspect us. So, luckily that day out of that location we had our chief operating officer, Larry Schafer, who was monitoring that site, and met the inspector outside of our offices to inquire about what the rational for the visit or the reason for the visit was. And the inspector noted that they were there because they were concerned about our activities and wanted to understand and make sure we were practicing those safe things to keep everybody safe and healthy.
Grant Kim: So, before the inspector entered, Larry realized that they weren't wearing any type of protective face covering and actually told the inspector before that they're allowed to come in and inspect our facility, "We have a policy that we've mandated that any external visitors actually have to wear some type of protective face covering." And of course, the inspector didn't have one, so we had a stock of bandanas that we had ordered previously and had maintained a pretty healthy inventory in our offices, so we actually gave the inspector one of our bandanas that was a surprise to the inspector. But he certainly understood. He donned it, put it on, completed the rest of the inspection, and actually came back out if the inspection and saw the things that I had mentioned throughout this interview in terms of our practices. Propping doors open, putting tissue stations next to doors, seeing everybody wearing masks, and seeing how we were socially distancing ourselves, and reconfiguring our office space, and had moved people around. They were very impressed and obviously, we passed the inspection and we continued to operate our business.
Grant Kim: But it goes to show you, again, another validation of our practices where we had the inspector go through and was very impressed and commended us on what we were doing.
Meghan Good: So, with that, I think you gave us some incredible results that you've seen from the measures that you've taken after really only four to six weeks of those being the precautions. Now, I'm wondering from there, what are you doing going forward? As you're starting to see the number of those infected with COVID-19 rise and as we're anticipating that change to keep happening, how are you adjusting, how are monitoring and tracking what's going forward?
Grant Kim: We certainly want to maintain the practices that we've put into place, right? And there is an opportunity to potentially provide some more flexibility in our practices. When you walk into one of our facilities today, it does feel a little bit dystopian, right? It's just so unfamiliar for all of us and just so different from how we operated before. You've got everybody wearing bandanas or cloth face masks. You've got no interaction between staff, right? But very early on as we started thinking about all of these prevention methods, we looked at managing COVID-19. Again, we actually implemented a detailed management plan that was rolled our March 11th, right, that we started drafting the week prior. And then we finalized and rolled out to the entire company on March 11th, March 12th.
Grant Kim: But the focus of the plan was to look at this, not just in terms of preventative measures, but long term knowing that we would have to work in our environments, our corporate environments, our clinic with this virus around us. So, we looked at prevention, right? So, what do we do to make sure that there's prevention? And everything that I've talked about so far focuses on prevention.
Grant Kim: Next is monitoring to monitor not only the trends of the infection, but also monitoring our staff to make sure they can follow the procedures that we put into place.
Grant Kim: The third aspect of the management plan is response. So, how do we respond to an incident, right? We knew that it was a matter of time than an incident would be reported and that we would have to respond, and we wanted to make sure that the response was organized and as surgical and pinpoint as possible. And then, finally is recovery, right? So, how do you get back to work after an incident given the high level of anxiety and fear? So, that's really the crux of our management plan, and I think as we look forward to the discussions that are happening out there about when do we get back to normal, right? When does America get back to work? And you're hearing some dates being floated out there, potentially 1 May. Well, for QTC, we felt like that was a decision that was already made for us, right? We've been at work and we continue to be at work and we feel like we figured out to manage with this virus and still be productive, still be effective, albeit the culture and how we interact with each other is very different.
Grant Kim: So, for us moving forward, it's a matter of continuing to apply our principles, enhance some of the response and recovery activities, right? But it's just, for us, moving forward and as we "get back to work" or get back into our offices, it's really taking what we've learned and continuing to enhance in. And I think for us, the benefit is we have the higher level of confidence now, right? We've seen this virus make its way through our society. We have the same level of anxiety and fear. We had incidents that, again, significantly increased that anxiety and fear. We were able to go through the quarantine period and see exactly what the result would be. Fortunately, we came out with very positive results, so it gives us confidence and validates what we've been doing.
Grant Kim: So, one of the things that we've started doing as a number of our employees are off-site and as we've decreased the density of many of our offices, and we continue to move more and more employees off-site as we find different technology solutions to do so, we've actually started considering, "Well, what's the redesign of our facilities? Do we need to start moving around furniture now? Do we need to enact more partitions? How do we use, potentially, plexiglass to allow for interactions but to keep the interactions safe?"
Grant Kim: So, those are the thoughts that we've started considering and we have plans in place to actively execute on some of those things. Again, to continue to consistently practice our safety measures, but find ways to enhance them.
Bridget Bell: And I think those four, the prevention, monitoring, response and recovery have been so monumental in creating the successes that you've had so far in limiting the spread. Looking more at that response and recovery, those last two. So, we've seen past pandemics that had additional waves of infection after life kind of goes back to "normal." And you've talked about how you can, you have already built the confidence so that your staff and examinees know, "We can be safe in this environment." But as that response and recovery portions evolve, how are you staying proactive, that one step ahead, that monitoring the science and figuring out what to do next?"
Grant Kim: It's hard to split kind of the four aspects, prevention, monitoring, response, and recovery. But focusing more on the later parts of the plan. I think we have to continue to drive ways so that the response activities, the magnitude of the response activities decreases. For example, initially when we started decreasing the density of our office, we were looking forward to what we do in case there's an event, right? How do we respond and how do we recover? And we realized we can't just be presented with a situation where you've got multiple story buildings, many different common areas, 250 plus employees, have an incident and expect to evacuate the whole building and put all the employees into quarantine for 14 days, right? That's just not sustainable as a business to come back to work and then dismiss people and put into quarantine for successive 14 day periods every time you have an incident.
Grant Kim: So, in terms of how to recover, what we considered very closely was how do we minimize the potential impact, right? And what I mean by that is even though we have a building that previously was free flowing of employees walking around from department to department, a part of our practical procedures, aside from ensuring everybody wore masks and ensuring there's no contact with any surface that was potentially contaminated, again our thought process and philosophy was, "How would you operate assuming everybody was infected and every surface was contaminated?" So, keep that in mind as you touch things within the buildings or as you interact with people in order to inform you of how you should interact in this new environment, right? That was the basic principle.
Grant Kim: So, along with that, we started figuring out, "Well, how do we limit people's movements?" Right? So, you could think of that example that I just shared with you or having a multi-story building with 200 employees flowing freely from department to department. Something comes up, somebody goes down to IT, something else comes up, somebody goes to visit the HR director. Well, that had to stop, right? Because imagine again if you had an incident with that type of environment, the contact tracing would be extremely difficult, so you may have to resort of essentially sending everybody home again. So, our thought process was virtually establish smaller and smaller contamination and recovery zones. And you do that by looking at your space and trying to figure out, "How do we limit the movement of people? How do we keep people in certain areas?"
Grant Kim: And then if they need to have a discussion with somebody in HR, it's done virtually, even though they're right down the hallway. What the idea is that the more you can contain people, the more you can restrict movement, when you do have an event the contact tracing is much less complex, it's localized, right? The effort to clean and sanitize the area is localized, so you're not trying to deep clean the whole building. And the impacted individuals that you put into quarantine is greatly limited. So, rather than having the entire building evacuated and all 250 potential employees in quarantine, you can limit it to a specific department, specific office space, the deep cleaning and things of that nature can be specific surfaces or tables or rooms. And then the employees that you actually put in quarantine for monitoring because there was this close contact even though everybody's protected, there was this close contact, that can be just a few people versus hundreds of people.
Grant Kim: So, I think those are the things that organization and certainly QTC, we're considering as we continue to move down the path of this new world, understanding that we have to continue to work with the virus around us.
Bridget Bell: And it's clear that QTC is setting that precedent because, like you've said, with all you've done to understand the science behind it, the three principles of how it spreads, and limiting that, and then how you've handled the incidents with contact tracing, it sets a great example that your employees must feel more and more confident in the face of anything related to COVID-19, knowing QTC has been able to handle it already.
Grant Kim: Of course, that's the hope of any leader is to continue to bolster the confidence of your employees. But I explained very early on, mid-March, early March when we started enacting these practices, which were just highly unusual for an office setting. Just imagine back then walking into an office where people had bandanas on, C masks on, surgical masks, whatever they could get their hands on, right? Right, I tell you, even back then, I had a number of employees email me and say, "You know what? The person next to me has just been a regular cougher and I'm just so happy that now to have a mask on because I just feel more protected, right?" So, I received that type of feedback early on.
Grant Kim: Now, again, moving forward, given that the practices that we put into place was eventually validated and adopted by broader society and broader municipal city, state, government leadership, I think that provides our organization even more confidence to continue to be vigilant, exercise these procedures. Of course, none of what we're doing displaces any of the core safety precautions that have been out there, that the CDC put out there. Things like continuously washing your hands, right? Making distance.
Grant Kim: So, what we think of what we've done is enhancing to all those. It doesn't displace it, right? And that we continue to take what we've learned and figure out ways that as, for example, as personal protective equipment like surgical masks finally become more readily available, maybe we start to move away from the bandanas and the cloth face masks and homemade masks, and we do things like issue an employee a mask for the day every time they come to work before they enter the facility. We do active temperature monitoring before they enter the facility. So, there's a lot of these things currently being accessed, I think, out there. We've kind of had to find homegrown solutions for all of this. But again, as we start to adapt into this role, I think as equipment becomes more available, as other companies start to share their best practices, we'll start to apply those things in a more standardized manner.
Bridget Bell: So, with that Grant, I was just wondering, are there any final words of advice that you have for our listeners as they're operating during this time of a pandemic as well?
Grant Kim: The fear is real, right? The anxiety is real. And regardless of your personal situation, you might be young and healthy, you never get sick, more than likely you have to understand the sensitivity with the broader group, team, organization. So, I think it's important as we try to get back normal that we proactively put these procedures in place. And I know that our leadership team came up with some great ideas and looking back, and hopefully looking forward, it ensured the highest level of safety possible for our staff, right? Given the fact that we have to continue working, we have to continue to be in the office.
Grant Kim: I think the one thing that I would note is that once you get past the hurdle of adopting these new practices and people starting to exercise it routinely, it kind of builds on itself, right? So, the catalyst needs to be the leadership team, but once you put it into place, the employees come up with the ideas, right? It's amazing how many different ways we've figured out how to attach some type of paper product to a wall next to a door handle, right? Whether that's actual dispensers, toilet roll dispensers, paper towel dispensers, a Kleenex box that's been taped to a wall. It's just once you serve as the catalyst as a leadership team, and once people start to understand and appreciate what you're trying to accomplish, it kind of builds upon itself. And I'm hopeful that as we get back to the work as a country, right, as corporate America, that these practices will continue to evolve. They will be shared and then we can come up with a common set of procedures that are recognized broadly as being really the safest way to operate.
Grant Kim: And that even though as many experts predict, this is something that's going to be with us for the next 12 to 18 months until there's some type of herd immunity or cure or vaccine, that we can quickly get back to some semblance of normal. Certainly go back to being a productive nation much sooner. But again, the anxiety and fear early on will be understandable. Confidently put practices in place to protect the organization and other leaders, other organizations as we've seen at QTC, you'll get past those infection events. Those things will happen, but have the robust procedures predefined and actually practiced, right?
Grant Kim: It's like a fire drill or an earthquake drill. More recently, we've started doing active shooter drills. Well, at QTC, we started doing infection drills, right? So, that helps you understand how you will perform in an incident like that where you have to do contact tracing, where you have to do quarantine, where you have to close down parts of the facility and do a deep cleaning. And when you have those things defined and practiced, when the incident actually happens, you'll come out on the other side with hopefully very minimal impact, but most importantly, the confidence that what you're doing works. And once you build that confidence, the fear starts to drop, the anxiety starts to drop, and we go back to being productive and accomplishing the mission at hand, regardless of what that mission is for the unique organization and the leaders that are out there.
Bridget Bell: Well, thank you for that, Grant, and thank you for sharing the journey that you've gone through so far with QTC. We really appreciate your time today.
Bridget Bell: I'd also like to say thank you to our audience for listening to MindSET. If you enjoyed this episode, please share with your colleagues and visit Leidos.com/MindSET. And if you're interested in hearing more about QTC, please visit QTCM.com.