ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos' facilities reopened Tuesday to a limited number of employees, a series of protective measures were installed at UCHealth Training Center and Empower Field at Mile High.
Various hallways in the buildings were designated as one-way walkways to ensure social distancing, informational signage was displayed throughout the buildings and personal protective equipment was distributed to each employee. That all came after each employee underwent a preventative temperature scan and answered several health-related questions upon arrival.
The Broncos' health precautions are in line with the NFL's league-wide mandate and were developed by the team's COVID-19 task force.
Even after the plan was developed, though, someone had to implement. Senior Vice President of Operations Chip Conway was at the forefront of those efforts, and he spent time Tuesday speaking with DenverBroncos.com about the challenges of preparing UCHealth Training Center for the employees' return.
"The organization has really come together to fight this, and we really appreciate everyone's efforts to get this done," Conway said. "It's made me feel really good about who we are as an organization."
For more of our conversation with Conway, read on.
Aric DiLalla: What were some of the biggest challenges in making sure that people could come back to work safely?
Chip Conway: "I think one of the biggest challenges for us was procurement of janitorial supplies, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, PPE — our facemasks and gloves. Our kitchen staff is going to need considerably more PPE than what they've used in the past. Just getting all the supplies in place and ready and available for the staff to use once they get back in the building, it's been a struggle. It still is a struggle actually."
After installing precautionary measures, the Broncos reopened their facilities at UCHealth Training Center and Empower Field at Mile High for employees to return to work.
AD: We've seen the photos of signage up around the building and designating one-way hallways. How involved was your team in the configuration and set up of those precautionary measures?
CC: "We have a good task force working for the organization, and they gave us some good detail on what they were looking for. We sat down and drew up a map and submitted it to the group for them to approve. We were just trying to figure out a traffic flow that works best to move around the building and where is signage needed. We're trying to make it as easy as possible for everyone when they come back in the building so that it's easy to maneuver around the building and keep everyone at a safe distance."
AD: Operations works with other departments a lot, but which departments did you need to work with closely during this reopening process?
CC: "Pretty much all of them. Security and the trainers and the equipment guys and the video guys, personnel. I don't think there was a group that we didn't work really closely with to make sure everyone had their needs taken care of and that we were able to work as a whole to get everything up and going when it needed to be."
AD: You've been with the Broncos for nearly three decades. I'd imagine this task was unlike any you've had to deal with before from an operations standpoint?
CC: "Absolutely. This is one I never dreamed we'd be preparing for — nor do I want to prepare for it again. Hopefully we learn from this and if this ever comes up again we'll be better prepared for it."
AD: Are there still things that need to be done before players or coaches return, or is the plan pretty much in place?
CC: "The plan is in place. I think there are some decisions that still need to be made by whether it's by Coach Fangio or John Elway or the task force as to the amenities and what level we have food available and to what extent to the players and coaches and staff — and how we distribute the food. As well as the weight room — how many people can access it at a time? There's a lot of decisions. I think we're still waiting on some information from the league, some parameters or guidelines that they're going to set forth to all the teams. We're hoping to see some of that information soon, just so we have a better understanding of how we're going to do it ourselves."
AD: You're one of the few people back in the building. What's the mood like at UCHealth Training Center?
CC: "I think, if you could see people's smiles underneath the masks, you'd have seen a lot of smiles this morning when they were coming in. It was good. It was good to see people. It was good to see someone not just through a Zoom conference or hear their voice over a phone call. It was nice to be present."