• Article
  • August 18, 2020

Leadership Tip: Solid Communication Key to Virus Response

Staff members value clear, consistent and direct lines of communication during the pandemic—and beyond.


Melissa Trovato always understood the importance of good communication. But when she assumed a leadership role in her organization last fall, she gained a fresh perspective on it—and a renewed appreciation for its importance.

“What I’ve learned in taking this position is how much staff respect direct communication and like being well-informed about what’s going on,” says Trovato, M.D., interim medical director of rehabilitation at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. “Having an open and direct line of communication makes a big difference.”

Pandemic response requires heightened emphasis on staff communication

The COVID-19 pandemic underscores that value. Trovato says the executive team at Kennedy Krieger began addressing pandemic-related communication protocols in March by conducting daily task force calls with leaders across the organization. The objective: to ensure they were all on the same page regarding the information they shared with their teams—and, ultimately, to patients and their families. Today, more than 100 directors and managers participate in the call every day.

“There was a lot of fear, worry and unknowns—and there still is to some extent,” Trovato says. “I think it was really helpful for the staff to see leadership working together and sending a very clear and consistent message.”

Solid communication fundamentals retain value post-pandemic

Trovato adds that Kennedy Krieger staff considers itself “a family,” so cultivating lines of transparent, direct and cohesive communication between leaders and their teams felt consistent with that sentiment. And she believes it’s a communication model that will continue after the pandemic has passed.

“It’s been exciting to see how everyone has pulled together as leaders to have a consistent message that we’re sending to our staff,” Trovato says. “If there’s any good to come from the pandemic, it’s that it’s helped break down silos and created a cohesive group of leadership and staff.”

Read more: Kennedy Krieger recently launched a rehabilitation clinic devoted to treating children recovering from COVID-19. 

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