3 health system execs on staffing challenges, advice to peers

Kelly Gooch –
Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

The pandemic has caused health systems to adjust their staffing to accommodate COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 clients. Throughout the general public health crisis, health systems have dealt with problems in recruiting employees and ensuring adequate staffing as client volume shifted and employees were sidelined due to coronavirus exposure..

3 executives from health systems across the U.S. recently consulted with Beckers Hospital Review about the staffing obstacles they faced in the start of the pandemic, the staffing challenges still dealt with months into the pandemic, and their guidance to their peers dealing with comparable circumstances..

We are working tirelessly to combat the unfavorable impacts every healthcare facility is dealing with, but it is a difficulty every day, every shift.

My recommendations [for peers] is to invest in your team. It was necessary to keep our workers operating in some capability. This demonstrated that we value them, which in turn helps with retention and recruitment. Communicate, interact, interact. COVID created much unpredictability with the consistent changing of standards and the worry of this unknown virus that could affect them personally or their households.

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Editors note: Responses were modified gently for length and clearness..

Our experience reveals that by putting our clients and our partners initially and focusing on our objective of offering compassionate, tailored care to all, we have had the ability to successfully navigate the pandemic

We also established a procedure to redeploy clinical associates within markets and throughout state lines to help in our a lot of impacted surge markets. Through the Ascension Critical Staffing Program, more than 6,700 Ascension nurses, student nurses and nurse interns in 10 states were cross-trained to serve in intensive care units, emergency situation departments, intense care areas and breathing treatment units so they might assist anywhere and whenever needed. Cross-training nurses and other associates is having a long-lasting effect, as they have extra abilities for brand-new opportunities to browse their careers and to better serve our neighborhoods. We have actually likewise developed the myCareer program to make it easier for our partners to share their desires for development and growth within Ascension, consisting of brand-new roles and neighborhoods..

Sheryl Dodds, primary individuals officer for AdventHealth Central Florida Division (Orlando): Central Florida was currently a competitive place for nursing and a number of our entry level positions, and COVID-19 intensified the requirement for extremely skilled medical workers. During the peak of the rise, we likewise had a significantly greater number of employee unavailable to work due to being exposed to COVID. (As of September, this trend diminished, and weve returned to our normal absentee levels)..


TalentMatch permits group members to browse for functions that they can momentarily fill that meet a service requirement. TalentMatch allowed us to bend our workforce in a way that was equally beneficial to both private team members and the organization.
We continue to face difficulties hiring nurses, and were using a imaginative and layered approach to retain and recruit group members. In preparation for times that COVID might once again escalate, we have actually asked nurses who are currently in management or other non-bedside positions to consider returning to direct patient-care functions.

Rachel Harris, BSN, RN, interim chief nursing executive for Erlanger Health System (Chattanooga, Tenn.): This has actually been one of the most tough times in my 27-year nursing career. The obstacle we anticipated at the beginning was not the reality of what the situation turned out to be. Throughout the early phases, the neighborhood was extremely cautious to come to the medical facility for any type of care. Then, optional procedures were canceled by state mandate, causing our census to drop drastically. Due to the low census we needed to adjust staff schedules and hours, which adversely impacted much of our team. Employees throughout the system compromised for the cumulative good of the company. We felt for each of these individuals, but based upon personal responsibilities, some staff did look for other opportunities and took travel assignments to COVID-19 inundated locations. Stressing about their safety and health, I remained in contact with numerous of them on a weekly basis. Weve been lucky and are happy numerous have returned, although others felt the calling and have actually continued to take a trip..

Throughout the peak of the surge, we also had a substantially greater number of group members not available to work due to being exposed to COVID. We did not furlough any group members, and rather, developed an effective redeployment tool we called TalentMatch. TalentMatch allows team members to browse for roles that they can momentarily fill that fulfill a business need. TalentMatch permitted us to bend our workforce in a method that was equally advantageous to both private group members and the organization.
We continue to face obstacles recruiting nurses, and were utilizing a creative and layered method to keep and hire group members.

Karen Springer, executive vice president of efficiency optimization and nursing operations, Ascension (St. Louis): Early in the pandemic reaction, Ascension executed new practices to support the financial security of our associates while making resources available to help them attend to obstacles, consisting of establishing charitable funds to assist partners experiencing financial difficulties; devoting to secure the pay of partners throughout the height of the pandemic; dependent care support; and specialized or targeted advantages readily available to front-line partners, such as covering 100 percent of the hotel stay cost for medical associates who chose to stay in a hotel to remove any issue relating to unintentional cross contamination to household members..