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Brown County Browser: Pandemic lessons

Like so many other organizations, Brown County Human Services has continued to provide service the past sixteen months, but in different ways due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From this comes lessons learned that may not have happened under ordinary circumstances. We very quickly had to shift from all staff being in the office to making “work at home” an accessible and do-able option for many employees. Becoming proficient in using technology became a necessity as we had essential services to provide. To protect the health and safety of clients and staff, the Department of Human Services put some waivers in place to allow for continued contact through phone or video communication instead of required face to face contacts. Some mandatory services still necessitated face to face contact such as child and adult protection investigations. We learned that many of these waivers allowed for efficiency in our work including less travel time, simplifying some rules and regulations, using technology for digital instead of in person signatures and easier access for clients to meet with their county worker from a remote location. Simplification and easing of so many rules and regulations is needed in our state human service system. Fortunately the 2021 legislature agreed and some of these temporary waivers have been made permanent.

COVID 19 has certainly caused negative impacts for some individuals, families and businesses. However, there are some lessons that we can take from this experience to help us provide better and more efficient service into the future.

The Governor has officially proclaimed July 27th as “County Staff Appreciation Day” in recognition of all of the hard work and dedication shown by Minnesota county employees during the pandemic. As Director, I am very proud of the adaptability and continued hard work done by our staff at Human Services, in the midst of the public health emergency. This includes our very dedicated bus drivers and dispatchers at Heartland Express.

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