Malin Bengener, an infection control doctor in the district of Jönköping county, ended up in the media spotlight early on because the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus was discovered in Jönköping.
When the Swedish Medical Association Management Association held a theme day this week entitled “Leadership and Medical Efficiency in Crisis and Everyday Life,” it said communication was one of the main challenges as a leader during the pandemic.
Sometimes half of her working time was devoted to participation in the media and contact with journalists. As Head of the Health Care Department, I have also worked extensively when it came to liaising with District and Municipal Nursing and Nursing staff.
When it comes to nursing and care staff, from the start it has been about trying to create safety around the staff, so that you have to feel safe to be able to work even with this unknown. This does not mean that one can express oneself confidently about things that we do not actually know, but it is important to say that in some areas we do not already know.
Another challenge is that the development of knowledge has been very fast, which means that the guidelines must be constantly updated.
– Then I mean really all the time. When we arrived last summer, I think we were on version 30 of the Care Hygiene Guidelines. This in itself is of course very difficult for everyone to keep track of.
Keeping employees updated is a challenge in itself, but Malin Bengener believes that quick updates can also affect employee confidence.
This somehow erodes trust. “Do you know absolutely nothing about what you’re talking about?” So it is about trying to explain that the reason is that the state of knowledge is constantly changing and that we have no ulterior motives either in politics or economics.
Another challenge is to be concrete even if you don’t have all the facts.
We want to base our guiding principles on proven science and experience, and we do that as often as possible, but sometimes you have to put your feet up and get concrete even if there’s no exact data. We know it’s fine to keep the distance, but is it 1 metre, two metres, or 1.5 metres? In the end, we might just have to put our feet up and put in a number.
At the start of the pandemic, a lot of outreach to the public revolved around calming down.
– Since then, I have gradually had to increase the tone, you might say, and more and more pressure to sharpen the solemnity. It really is a challenge to communicate the same message for a long time. It constantly requires raising the tone a little to get someone to listen. It’s not easy.
Malin Bengener also stressed that the pandemic sheds a very clear light on the issue of health differences in society and how difficult it is to reach certain groups.
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