One of the truths in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis is that an early and aggressive response makes a big difference. Latham-based medical technology company AngioDynamics certainly understands that. Even before the statewide shutdown ordered by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on March 22, AngioDynamics, which has manufacturing plants in Glens Falls and Queensbury, had already taken preemptive actions to protect its employees and clients.
“We pretty much said, ‘If it comes here then we have to have a plan,’” says Lucas Sauer-Jones, AngioDynamics’ director of operations. Early on, the med tech company developed a multipronged approach to ensure its workplace remained sanitary and safe. AngioDynamics partnered with North Country Janitorial and ramped up its cleaning processes; the company also started putting procedures in place around regular workplace communication, cleaning and social distancing, even constructing a separate cafeteria.
Adjusting to new protocol, however, has been only half the battle according to Sauer-Jones. “Managing the fear is easily the hardest part,” he says. “We could put the greatest procedures in place and communicate nonstop, but the thing we can’t control is the news. Employees go home and listen to the news and hear how bad it is and start developing this fear.”
Sauer-Jones understands a thing or two about managing fear. He spent four years as a Marine, even serving as a platoon sergeant in Afghanistan. “Dealing with fear over COVID-19 is no different than dealing with a very stressful situation in the military,” he says. “You have to step back and not panic and think about what’s the best thing to do for everyone.” Sauer-Jones says that lessons he learned in the Marines played a vital role in making sure that AngioDynamics was prepared even before the virus hit Upstate New York.
AngioDynamics also took some of its cues from Governor Cuomo, communicating daily with its employees about the ever-changing situation and how it would affect them in the workplace. “Good communication is the key to good morale,” says Sauer-Jones. “And sometimes that means being honest about what you do and don’t know.” The company also extended its employees’ paid time off and even partnered with a couple of local pizzerias to host weekly Thank You Thursdays, free socially distanced pizza lunches, for all plant workers. “Morale is very high with the workers right now,” says Sauer-Jones. “And we really couldn’t do it without them.”