In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HFMA Chapters share some creative virtual events and happy hours they have hosted during the stay-at-home mandate.
Chapters and Regions were recently forced to cancel or reschedule various events due to COVID-19. However, the inability to meet in person did not stop them from still connecting virtually. Here some HFMA Chapters share the digital activities they participated in during these unprecedented times.
Region 3: Metro Philadelphia, Western Pennsylvania, Central Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapters
Michael Rossi, FHFMA, CBSI, CPA, regional executive of Region 3, shared how in early May, the region hosted a COVID-19 webinar, maxing out its 500 registrations in less than one week. Region 3 also held a virtual happy hour to thank the outgoing presidents and regional executive.
“Individually, our chapters are organizing virtual happy hours and are looking at holding virtual planning sessions for the upcoming year,” said Rossi, who is the director of governmental reimbursement at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia. Three of the region’s five Chapters held their own virtual mini Leadership Training Conferences (LTC), with all of the new Chapter leaders, according to Rossi.
In mid-June, the Region hosted a webinar, Work from Home Strategies and Dealing with a Remote Workforce, with nearly 200 people registering for the event.
“As a region, we are committing to hosting one regional webinar a month from now until April ,” Rossi said.
Puerto Rico Chapter
Sandra V. Peña, Puerto Rico Chapter’s past president 2018-19 and program chair in 2020-21, said the Chapter’s members are enjoying virtual networking events and social gatherings. When initially planning the Chapter’s annual assembly and members’ virtual networking meeting, Peña said it felt bittersweet. To lighten the mood, everyone was encouraged to bring a favorite drink for a toast.
“It turned out we enjoyed seeing each other again and met our goal for board ratification,” said Peña, who is the COO at Mennonite Health Plan in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In addition, the Chapter held three webinars related to the COVID-19 emergency, including federal financial aid, tax and employee protection topics.
South Carolina Chapter
The South Carolina Chapter hosted its 13th annual (unofficial) 5K run/walk at the end of May. The event was virtual so anyone in the country could join. Registration was free, but participants were able to make donations with all proceeds benefitting the American Red Cross, Feeding America and Protect the Heroes charities.
“The South Carolina Virtual 5K was a wonderful opportunity to build community and bring HFMA colleagues together virtually for a good cause,” said Bill Eikost, FHFMA, senior vice president of business development at Nemadji in Bruno, Minnesota. “It reminds us that as an Association there is so much we can do for our communities, Eikost said. “Members of HFMA are usually caring and compassionate people who genuinely want to help others, I believe. It was a wonderful and needed experience at what had been a very isolating time up to that point.”
Central Ohio Chapter
According to John Ziegler, Central Ohio past president 2019-20 and board chair 2020-21, vice president of sales at Ambassador Software Works in Columbus, Ohio, the Central Ohio Chapter was forced to cancel its two spring events after much consideration.
“Before we made final decisions on how we should proceed, whether [completely] canceling the conferences for the year or [making] modifications to take them online, we formed a task force to investigate seven areas of impact: Vendor plans for 2020-21, provider plans for 2020-21, HFMA guidance, technology needs for live streaming, event day protocols should we have live events, member feedback preferences and financial modeling of options,” Ziegler said.
The result was canceling in-person events and putting a greater emphasis on marketing the Chapter’s webinar series, in coordination with the Michigan Chapters. The Chapter also developed:
- A virtual mini-LTC
- A virtual installation for its Officers
- Two additonal webinars
- New sponsorship packages that include a six-month package enabling the Chapter’s sponsors and the Chapter itself to adjust to alternative avenues for promotion
The Chapter plans to resume its in-person conferences in the spring of 2021,with venue partners developing safety protocols.
“There is a high likelihood that there will be attendance size limits in place, and we are building financial models out, [which] will guide our pricing decisions and what a hybrid conference that is … live, in-person and streaming would look like,” said Ziegler.
Aside from the events, Ziegler said the Chapter hosts weekly leadership video chats and by mid-summer would finalize a fundraising happy hour as part of the new Central Ohio Chapter’s Gives Back Committee, which launched last winter.
First Illinois Chapter
Bart Richards, president of the First Illinois Chapter and managing director at Claro Healthcare in Chicago, said in the past several months, due to COVID-19, the Chapter has held several digital activities, including:
- A May 21 all-member meeting via Zoom
- An ideation discussion using Medallia’s Crowdicity
- President’s update using video versus email
- Virtual happy hour for key volunteers
- Virtual transition dinner
- Virtual small group happy or thankful hours
Richards said the Chapter also plans on performing its fall conference through a professional virtual platform, complete with an exhibitor hall.
Next month’s “Chapter News” will feature details about what other HFMA Chapters have been up to during the COVID-19 pandemic.