Practice Title: COVID-19 Master Workforce Tracking System
Department: Nassau County Department of Health
Size: Large (Population of 500,000+ people)
State: New York
Summary of Practice:
The Nassau County Department of Health (DOH) has 240 employees and serves more than 1.3 million residents on Long Island, New York. Nassau County is the immediate Eastern neighbor of New York City, a suburban community with significant health and socioeconomic disparities. This area was an immediate epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic, which demanded an immediate, all-encompassing enhanced disease control response by employees across all units. This also presented an unprecedented workforce management challenge: The immediate goal was to accurately track employee work hours so that a uniform, credible, searchable, and adaptable tool could support our emergency response efforts. The administration team developed a new, iterative system of tracking tools, built using advanced Excel functions, that allowed the department to manage and track employee schedules and work functions as well as complex absences (paid and unpaid); this was especially challenging because none of the existing timekeeping and scheduling tools had the capacity to capture nuanced data.
The pandemic was a fluid situation from the beginning. A State of Emergency was declared by the County Executive on March 13; on March 22, a New York State Executive Order mandated that all non-essential businesses be closed in an attempt to “flatten the curve” as the state was experiencing more than 4,800 cases a day. Nearly all regular work ceased, and resources were redirected to COVID-19: case investigations, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine home checks, delivering urgently needed PPE to front-line workers, and providing wrap-around services (including food deliveries and household essentials) to residents. By March 21, DOH was impacted by COVID-19 as well, with employees becoming ill and others requiring quarantine. In addition, county guidelines allowed certain classes of employees to remain at home with pay, including individuals with pre-existing health conditions and those over 60 years of age. Others had their work temporarily discontinued. The department shifted to a 7-day schedule, with some employees assigned to work weekends in response to skyrocketing caseloads.
In partnership with the fiscal unit, DOH administration built an iterative, complex, and highly adaptable master tracking system that combined team schedules provided by bureau directors, paper employee COVID-19 timesheets (which alone has nearly 110,000 lines of data to date), and absence information collected by HR staff. This master tracking system can be sorted by date, employee, unit, cost center, etc., and details the COVID-related work in regular and overtime hours and dollars. Tremendous partnership and collaboration with individual employees and bureau directors have resulted in a master tracking system that the entire department can be proud of: With the evidence-based information gleaned from this system, DOH has demonstrated that a portion of the $2.3 million incurred in personnel expenses through the third quarter of 2020 is eligible for funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Without this relief funding, DOH’s budget would have been decimated, and the department would not have the resources to provide its regular services at the same level of excellence to the Nassau County public.
COVID-19 Master Workforce Tracking System
Workforce and Leadership