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Celebrating Community Responses to the COVID Pandemic

Posted on March 16, 2021

When we are invited to pitch prospective clients on why we believe we’re the right partner to help them solve difficult problems, we often spend a significant chunk of time talking about the values and principles we use to make decisions for our company. We do this not because it’s a great sales tactic—we would likely see better results by highlighting the return on investment we achieve for our clients—but because we strongly believe our best long-term client relationships are formed when our values and missions intertwine.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have watched so many members of our community come together to transparently deliver important health information, provide people with vital resources in a time of great need, and deliver accessible support in response to the mental health crisis that has been compounded by a global pandemic.

We are extremely proud to work with many organizations that have led the charge on these issues and others over the past year. Specifically, three organizations we partner with have been pillars of strength and support in the areas outlined above: CoxHealth, Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield, and Burrell Behavioral Health.

CoxHealth

CoxHealth is the healthcare leader in southwest Missouri, with six hospitals, more than 80 clinics, and nearly 12,000 employees. The CoxHealth leadership and staff have embodied their values—safety, compassion, respect, and integrity—at every stage of the pandemic. The organization is made up of the largest group of front line workers in our region, navigating the fear and uncertainty of the unknown while working tirelessly to provide care for those in need.

If you live in the Southwest Missouri region and you use Twitter, odds are that Steve Edwards (@SDECoxHealth) has been your gateway to vital COVID-19 news and information from the early days of the pandemic. Steve’s steady and open communication throughout CoxHealth’s COVID-19 response has given our communities an important advantage, allowing the public to better understand the importance of local mandates to protect people in the context of the limits of healthcare institutions. As mask mandates and stay-at-home orders became controversial due to misinformation, Steve brought the conversation back to facts, science, and data to inform the public and local government in a way that only he could.

Beyond managing the front line response efforts and being a source of accurate information, CoxHealth led a transparent expansion in both facilities and equipment in order to be prepared for a possible second wave of COVID-19 cases. What appeared to be an abundance of caution at times, was, over time, revealed to be a necessity in preparing our communities for the difficult winter months, undoubtably saving many lives.

Those of us who live in and around Springfield are beyond grateful for the efforts of CoxHealth. Without their presence and perseverance, we would be severely lacking in the expertise and knowledge required to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield

Boys & Girls Clubs of America share a unified mission to enable all young people, especially those who need them most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges in meeting their mission and surfaced entirely new needs within our community. The Clubs in our region, led by Brandy Harris, have responded without hesitation to meeting this new challenge, and quickly became a vital part of our community’s response to the pandemic.

All of the organization’s five values—integrity, collaboration, accountability, respect, and excellence—were used daily in navigating these challenges in collaboration with the city government, Club members, and partners.

Our organization exists to serve the kids and families who need us most. While COVID required us to shift, our mission and priorities remained the same. I am endlessly grateful to work and live in an altruistic community as it helps us fulfill our promise to our Club members. I’m also grateful to lead an organization and team with such a passion for helping others. On March 19th, they essentially got new job descriptions and every single one of them got to work without pause.

 Brandy Harris
Brandy Harris

Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield was presented with a unique challenge of working within the constraints of city policies, navigating the necessity of meeting strict health guidelines, and the demand of continuing to fulfill the mission of the organization. The result was a phased reopening approach and, in many areas of the organization, a complete revamp of the programs—from updated transportation procedures to alternating groups in order to match recommended capacity guidelines.

While many hear, appropriately, of the front-line workers in healthcare, organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield often fail to receive recognition for the work they do to uplift and hold up communities across the country.

Burrell Behavioral Health

Early into the pandemic, Burrell Behavioral Health led the charge in considering second- and third-order consequences of a global pandemic that many were overlooking at the time. While healthcare experts and city leaders were considering necessary physical distancing and stay-at-home orders, the leadership at Burrell was also considering the impact such policies would have on the existing mental health crisis—that would now be exacerbated.

Before COVID-19, Burrell’s leadership recognized a dramatic imbalance nationally and regionally between the need for community mental healthcare and the available resources to keep up. In response, they created walk-in access to all locations while actively working to expand virtual options. Because of their work in advance of the pandemic, the organization was able to rapidly scale from a small percentage of care conducted online to more than 75% of all visits being virtual over the course of just a few weeks. Today, Burrell clients rely on a virtual environment for 60% of the care they receive.

In addition to pivoting to meet the rapidly changing mental health needs of their communities, Burrell was leading community awareness of the impact COVID-19 would have on people’s mental wellbeing, now and into the future.

Prior to COVID, we had worked with Mostly Serious to rebrand because we wanted to de-stigmatize mental health and ensure our storytelling and logo aligned to be truly inviting. But once COVID hit, the trust and awareness we had built in the community suddenly became a vital conduit for people in crisis. I don’t believe it’s overstating at all to say the work we spent rebranding prior to COVID truly saved lives during it.

Adam Andreassen
Adam Andreassen

The daily BeWell Community meetings, hosted live on Facebook, offered the most immediate insight into the success and effectiveness of their early COVID-19 response efforts. Within just a few weeks, thousands of people were connecting with Burrell. Importantly, many of those people were not existing Burrell clients, but people in need of support and information in an incredibly difficult period—and they found an open door and open arms among the staff at Burrell.


We feel honored and fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with organizations that, when faced with a world-altering challenge, step up and first look to how they can best serve people in need. Without them, the pains suffered over the past year would have been far greater.

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