Building Resiliency in Crisis: Keeping Public Sector Workers Healthy on the Job

This National Comp session looks at how Miami-Dade County Public Schools kept its workers safe in the wake of COVID-19.
By: | October 13, 2022

As you can probably imagine, for Rosa Royo, director of workers’ compensation and loss prevention at Miami-Dade County Public Schools, 2020 was a difficult year.

“COVID was as new to us as it was to everybody else. So everybody was scrambling,” Royo said. “If you got information at eight o’clock in the morning, it was stale by 10. Protocols were changing. Everybody was terrified.”

In addition to the challenges posed by the virus, Florida passed a workers’ comp presumption for officers who contracted the virus. Miami-Dade is the fourth-largest school district in the country and has its own police force. Royo knew she could be looking at hundreds of claims.

But even though the disease was new and many were frightened, Royo stepped up. She worked to protect Miami-Dade public schools’ police force from the virus and fought for it to receive the best possible care.

Royo’s leadership as she worked to stay connected with police officers who were sick with COVID-19 earned her recognition as a 2022 Risk All Star.

Royo will be sharing her story alongside Tammy Bradly, senior director of clinical product marketing at Genex, during the session “Building a Blueprint for the Next Crisis” at the National Comp conference.

They’re teaming up to share how Miami-Dade County Public Schools teamed up with Genex’s case managers to tackle the challenges posed by more than 170 COVID claims and to share strategies organizations can use during the next crisis.

“Case managers were really having to think outside of the box and figure out how they could alter how they normally would do things to get information, and to be able to have contact with the injured employees as well as their families,” Bradly said.

Worker Advocacy in Action

The results of Royo and Genex’s partnership speak for themselves: All the officers recovered to their fullest potential and there was zero litigation.

“Obviously, the most important piece was getting people healthy and getting them back to their lives,” Royo said.

Even as it felt like the world at large was spiraling out of control, Royo and the team of Genex case managers prioritized whole-person care. During the session, Royo and Bradly will detail why that attitude was key to their successful results.

“Over the past several years, there’s been so much talk in the industry about the importance of establishing trust and being an advocate for the injured or ill employee, and I think that this story is a perfect example of that,” Bradly added.

“I’m sure that went a long way in the positive outcomes that Rosa saw, particularly around litigation.”

Another differentiator: The strong team Miami-Dade public schools built both internally and in its partnership with Genex.

“The relationships that you put in place and the processes that you put in place are what’s going to get you through,” Royo said. “Build a core group of people who you can rely on.”

National Comp: A Lesson for the Next Crisis 

For Royo, the primary motivation for sharing Miami-Dade’s story isn’t to boast about their great success. Rather, she hopes other programs will be able to take what the school district learned and implement it in their own programs.

The session is part of the conference’s “Steal These Ideas!” track, which is meant to provide attendees with tangible strategies they can implement in their own programs.

“When I started in this industry, folks were very generous with their time. They shared all kinds of their own lessons. If I can pay that back, that’s important to me,” Royo said. “What we learned could help somebody else during the next pandemic, crisis or catastrophe.”

One thing Royo and Bradly hope people take away from the session is that these tips don’t just apply to global pandemics. They can be applied to any crisis situation.

“In the beginning, I did not make the connection between the similarities between this and every other natural disaster that we face,” Royo said.

They hope to be able to inspire attendees with, as Bradly put it, “a true, real-life success story.” &

Courtney DuChene is a freelance journalist based in Philadelphia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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