Submitted by Learning & Organizational Change

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of the world to a halt. As Fiona Dalton, President & CEO, Providence Health Care, mentioned at the staff virtual town hall on April 29, the current situation can make us feel like we are in the middle of a portal — a gateway from one world to another, “the unknown.” In such a phase, it is common to feel uncomfortable, stressed or anxious.

Here at PHC, we are used to a lot of change, but why does this particular change feel different? As many of you know, we are experiencing a transformative change process with five key phases: 1) Shock; 2) trying to hold on to what once was; 3) experiencing the unknown or the uncomfortable; 4) inspired action; and 5) a new reality.

Take a moment to reflect on a change you’ve experienced in your past — whether it was health related, the beginning or end of a relationship, a change in your career, moving to a new city or the transition of a loved one. You most likely experienced grief, shock and tried to hold on to what was or contemplated the question “why did this happen?”

After a period of time, you may have moved onto the next phase — the unknown phase.  The unknown phase is when you let go of what was but have yet to create something new — a transition phase between the old and the new. As we reflect on COVID-19, we have transitioned from the feelings of shock, to letting go, and now we are in the space of the unknown. Currently, we don’t know what the future holds but we also don’t want to go back to how things once were. 

At this time, there are two possible ways to approach the situation:

  1. Accept where we are by managing our doubts, anxieties and being comfortable with the uncomfortable and using our values, our courage, imagination and inspiration to move forward.

  2. Control and hold on to what we can, thus, moving toward feelings of blame and destruction. 

We encourage you to pursue the first option. By focusing on courage and embracing the uncomfortable, you are able to take action and create new ways of caring for our patients and residents.

Noted below is a list of five ways to help you navigate the unknown:

  1. Be aware of it.  Notice if you feel uncomfortable and uncertain of the future.  By noticing this, you can normalize the process you are going through and rationalize it as a necessary step in the transformation.
  2. Use the tools you have learned to self-manage your emotions, anxieties or any doubts that you may be feeling.  For tools, we encourage you to visit the Staff Support section on the COVID-19 website.
  3. Be kind to yourself. You may experience highs and lows throughout the day — this is common when managing the unknown. Reminder, please be kind to yourself.  
  4. Ask a question.  Challenge yourself to ask a question. For example, “what could be possible? Or, “what is right about this?” By doing this, you shift your focus away from your doubts and anxieties.
  5. Do something that brings you joy.  For example, go for a bike ride with your family, read a book, do some yoga, exercise, have a Facetime call with a family member, paint, do some writing, or practice mindfulness. 

In the words of our leader, Fiona Dalton:

“Let’s walk through this portal lightly, let’s take our values, our imagination, our inspiration and fight for a new world in which we can truly deliver the care we want to for our patients and residents.”


This page last updated May 1, 2020 5:33pm PDT