March 20 Message from Ryan O'Connor on COVID-19 Response
I wanted to get one more message out to everyone this week. I had intended to do a quick video, but I’m instead emailing and putting this on RamseyNet because there is so much to share.
We have transformed our service delivery organization in one week, and that is both an amazing feat and one that will surely leave some challenges as we head into next Monday. Most of all, it demonstrates how more than 4,000 of us collectively came together to answer the call to service - we have service delivery plans for every department that ensure the safety of our employees and the residents we serve in the uncertain days ahead.
Employees from across our organization have stepped up to an amazing degree this week to address the challenges we are facing in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. I have been so impressed and inspired by the response to our call to effectively realign service delivery beginning Monday, March 23.
This week, I approved more than 20 department plans to reallocate resources toward remote work models that minimize person-to person contact between employees and the public based on public health requirements for social distancing. All service plans also account for the potential that future guidelines may set further limits on gatherings and public movement as has been the case in other cities and states, so please note that we are tracking those developments closely.
Our plans were shaped by experts in each department and that shows through in the innovative ideas that came forward. In the span of a few days of around-the-clock planning, we have developed models that protect our residents and employees during this pandemic while providing efficient, effective and equitable operational approaches that address the reality in front of us. I thank every one of our 4,000 employees for helping us open our doors to service in new ways next week. Our spirit of service and deep commitment to our communities has shone through under immense pressure, and you are choosing to provide stability and support at a time when it is easy to allow fear and uncertainty to spread.
Ramsey County’s redesigned services model
Summaries of these service delivery modifications for all departments are available at ramseycounty.us/coronavirus.
Additional detail will be added daily as operations are implemented and continue to develop in the days and weeks ahead. We have provided both the summaries of the information for the public as well as the proposal forms that I reviewed and signed; transparency in this entire process is important to all of us and the public that we serve.
For the limited situations in which it is not possible for a resident to interact with Ramsey County via telephone or online options, three locations in the city of Saint Paul and three suburban Ramsey County locations will serve as secure drop-off and processing sites for documents related to all service types. These will be open during the locations’ regular business hours:
- Ramsey County Library – Maplewood
- Ramsey County Library – Roseville
- Ramsey County Library – Shoreview
- Plato building
- Ramsey County Government Center East
- Saint Paul City Hall – Ramsey County Courthouse
The three downtown Saint Paul locations will also accommodate walk-up service inquiries that individuals can access as an option of last resort for any issue involving Ramsey County. We anticipate light foot traffic but will be prepared to adjust based on what we observe and learn. These walk-up sites will strictly adhere to all public health guidelines to ensure the safety of residents and staff, and they will most importantly ensure that no resident is left behind in a moment of need.
In addition, we will begin expanding staffing and services available through a customer care center (651-266-8500) to serve as a one-stop option for directing and resolving resident inquires via phone, email, social media, community engagement or other means.
All emergency 24/7 facilities will continue operation with enhanced social distancing requirements. All Ramsey County WIC clinics, except the New Brighton location, will remain open for appointments and limited walk-in service in adherence to all social distancing requirements. The service window at the Law Enforcement Center will continue to be open during regular business hours for warrant-related documents and the only location to process gun permits.
I know there are many questions - and many more to come - as we work toward implementation of this new model this week and refine it in the weeks and months ahead. We plan to take stock every week of what we are learning and what needs adjusting, so please know this is all part of a continual process of evolving as the situation around us changes.
Thank you for your patience, commitment and ideas throughout this service delivery transformation.
Human Resources has been updating our employee FAQ regularly throughout the week at ramseycounty.us/coronavirus. If you haven’t had a chance to look at these recently, I would ask that you take a few minutes to review them.
Building on this, Human Resources staff members and labor leaders have been working long hours this week on an agreement to ensure we are providing the best resources and options possible for our employees while continuing to serve our community in this time of need. There are many details in these agreements to address many different individual situations, but here are the headliners:
- Creation of a new paid leave benefit of up to 80 hours for all employees, including temporary and intermittent employees.
- Removal of the requirement that new employees pass probation to use vacation or sick advance.
- The agreement will be taken up by the board of commissioners on Tuesday, March 24. If approved, it is proposed to retroactively go into effect beginning March 14.
We’re also seeking everyone’s help in determining what we can do with our partners to support employees’ childcare needs. If you have not reviewed and/or submitted the childcare survey, I would urge you to do so by midnight tonight.
Please continue to visit ramseycounty.us/coronavirus for up-to-date information on operational changes, our public health situation and response, and employee benefit changes.
Thanks again to all of you during this challenging time. I have never felt more proud than this week to be a Ramsey County employee and resident, and I recognize that those feelings are only possible because of you and your work under immense pressure.
P.S. – If you missed the quick video I recorded yesterday for employees – you can view it here. I promise to keep posting videos and messages like this in the days ahead – so please check back every day or so for additional updates about what is happening here and around us.