Business Transformation Services: SERV’s heroes behind the scenes

March 16, 2020: That’s when it all started.

With the global pandemic forcing the closure of many facilities, SERV’s Business Transformation Services (BTS) team sprang into action.

First, they focused on facilitating work from home and other corporate pandemic measures. This included a massive build and rollout of laptops, as well as an expansion of VPN technology use and instructional activities.

They were also tasked with reviewing and revising security priorities. Unfortunately, hackers love a crisis. So, the BTS team prepared to secure and privatize SERV’s new work environments in the face of threats.

Adjusting to the new normal wasn’t easy. But SERV’s heroes behind the scenes worked tirelessly to ensure the transition went as smooth as possible.

“We were instantly challenged after doing a COVID-19 impact analysis,” said Bob Donahue, Senior VP of BTS. “To keep pace with the pandemic, we accelerated our decision-making framework while maintaining alignment to our immediate corporate priorities and long-term goals.”

According to Donahue, the BTS team needed a “course correction,” which called for a resequencing of project plans and tasks without disrupting SERV’s frontline workers.

The correction involved working with vendors and project teams to establish new, innovative plans that shifted the workload toward more technical aspects that could be handled by the BTS team and non-direct caregivers.

“We were asking employees for an extraordinary effort in this time of crisis,” Donahue said, “and they delivered.”

SERV’s BTS team consists of Mark Bensel, Senior Systems Application Analyst; John Mellon, Senior Network Engineer; Yaqoob Yousafzai, Senior Desktop Engineer; Mike Keating, Desktop Support and Helpdesk Engineer; and Stacey Padovano, IT Project Coordinator.

Right now, the team is working on several major business platform projects. Among them are a new phone system (8x8), a new requisitioning and accounts payable platform (SAP Concur), a migration to Quickbooks online and Raisers Edge/Blackbaud Fundraiser Software, and an implementation and buildout for Project Management Office and Netsmart Telehealth services.

The team also remains focused on cyber security and plans to offer security awareness training for staff in the coming weeks.

SERV releases video training for consumers and staff dealing with stress and anxiety during COVID-19 pandemic

SERV has released a Relaxation Video Training to aid consumers and staff dealing with stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The training is led by Dr. Paul Lehrer, a Rutgers professor and SERV Board Member.

“This situation is a recipe for anxiety and stress. It can lead to depressed mood, to problems with sleep, or to loss of temper. It can also interfere with concentration, job performance, and our interpersonal relationships,” Dr. Lehrer said. “Sometimes it is very helpful to have a way to manage or ‘deflate’ the stress, and there are a number of techniques that psychologists have studied over the years that have been proven to help people do this.”

In the training, Dr. Lehrer covers a broad range of topics including muscle relaxation, hypnotism, relaxed breathing, and mindfulness. At the conclusion of each video, he asks that trainees practice what they’ve learned for twenty minutes a day throughout the week until they find the method that works best for them.

“People tend to enjoy and benefit from different methods. Some people do well with only one or two methods, some with all of them,” Dr. Lehrer said. “Participants in training will be able to choose themselves which methods are right for them.”

Paul Lehrer received his PhD in clinical psychology from Harvard University in 1969. After completing his psychology internship at the Stanford Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital, he accepted a position at Rutgers University, where he has taught a variety of courses in stress management and cognitive behavior therapy for more than fifty years.

Dr. Lehrer has led workshops on stress management and applied psychophysiology in eight countries and regularly presents them at scientific and professional meetings. He has also published more than 150 scholarly articles and serves as senior editor of the text Principles and Practice of Stress Management, of which the 4th edition will appear this spring.

Throughout his career, Dr. Lehrer has served as the president of many associations, including the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, the U.S. chapter of the International Stress Management Association, and the International Society for Advancement of Respiratory Psychophysiology. A forty-year board member of SERV Behavioral Health System, Inc., he received a Service Award in 2017.

Drexel University donates hundreds of 3D-printed face shields to SERV


Drexel University has donated hundreds of medical face shields to essential workers at SERV Behavioral Health System, Inc.

“We are grateful to Drexel University for this generous donation,” said Regina Widdows, President and CEO of SERV Behavioral Health System, Inc. “At SERV, as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of our consumers and staff remains our top priority. We appreciate the support of our friends at Drexel University, and these face shields will no doubt play a major part in helping us stay healthy and flatten the curve.”

Since March, the interdisciplinary design-build team at Drexel University has made more than 5000 face shields for healthcare workers on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The team at Drexel and throughout the Delaware Valley has made this project happen,” said Dr. Michele Marcolongo, Department Head and Professor in Drexel’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering. “From every maker who used their technical printing skills to make headbands for the face shields to faculty members Amy Throckmorton (Biomedical Engineering) and Ellen Bass (Information Science; Health Systems and Sciences Research) who organized manufacturing, assembly, and delivery, as well as our generous corporate sponsors and donors—this was a united front to serve our healthcare workers.”

The team at Drexel University uses 3D printers to make headbands for the face shields. Recently, the team set up a large assembly and packaging process in Drexel’s Innovation Studio, from which they can produce several hundred face shields a week. 

In addition to SERV, Drexel University has also donated face shields to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Penn Medicine, Main Line Health, Temple University Hospital, Einstein Medical Center, and Holy Redeemer HomeCare in Philadelphia.

Show your support for SERV on #GIVINGTUESDAY

There’s no getting around it: these are difficult times, and as a nation, we must come together in solidarity to support those in need. 

To that end, we ask that you join us today, May 5, in observing #GivingTuesdayNow—a day of global action for giving and unity in response to COVID-19.  

Like many not-for-profit organizations, SERV is suffering from the dramatic impact of the pandemic. With the cancellation of fundraising events and an increase in demand for critical services and personal protective equipment (PPE), we need your help now more than ever.

Despite the many challenges we face as a result of this crisis, the work of SERV must continue. Although our day programs have been suspended, our residential facilities are in full operation, and we are extremely proud of the bravery and dedication our staff has shown thus far. 

At this time of distress, distancing, and uncertainty, the well-being of the consumers remains our top priority. This pandemic is stressful and has caused depression, fear, and anxiety for our consumers suffering from mental illnesses and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities. 

The individuals in SERV’s care have been confined to SERV residences since March 17, under the guidance of specially trained staff members who work with them to meet their individual recovery goals. We are focusing all of our resources on our mission-driven work of providing the highest quality of compassionate care to our residential consumers, and we are in need of funds to purchase games and supplies for creative activities. We are also in need of funds for additional PPE for consumers and staff. 

We hope that you will consider a donation to SERV by clicking here. Your donation will help us to sustain our vital programming during these challenging times.

Your $250 donation can help provide PPE for both staff and consumers.

Your $100 donation can help provide a weekly supply of food for consumers. 

Your $50 donation can provide an infrared thermometer to a residential home.

Your $25 donation can provide puzzles, board games, and crafts to a residential home.

All of us need to remember that we will get through this. In the meantime, we wish you and your loved ones good health and safety. 

On behalf of the consumers—the true beneficiaries of your support—you have our heartfelt thanks.