Source: RevCycle Intelligence
Hospital staffing shortages are impacting about 22% of facilities, up from 19% last week, The Atlantic reports.
Hospital staffing shortages are becoming a significant problem again as the number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to increase across the country, according to a new report published in The Atlantic. HHS data acquired by the magazine showed that a fifth of American hospitals (22 percent) are currently experiencing a staffing shortage, and that is up from 19 percent last week (November 4 through 11). Hospital staffing shortages are especially a problem for facilities in eight states, The Atlantic reporter Alexis C. Madrigal added. Over 35 percent of hospitals in Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin are expecting to face a staffing shortage this week.
But COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising quickly across all four regions; the US recently broke its record from April for numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients with 73,000 inpatients the week of November 11. This surge in COVID-19 patients is putting pressure on hospital staffing, while also exposing more healthcare personnel to the highly contagious virus, forcing them to stay home. Hospital staffing shortages pose a unique problem for facilities because, while beds and other material resources may be available for the increasing number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, facilities may not have the staff needed to care for more patients, the report stated.
Many providers are also calling it quits amid the pandemic. Over a quarter (28 percent) of primary care clinicians recently surveyed by the Primary Care Collaborative and the Larry A. Green Center said their practice has lost team members because of COVID-19. Team members either quit or retired early. “During past surges, which were more localized, workers could be brought in from other places, but given that the current onslaught is national, that’s going to be much more difficult,” wrote Madrigal. Flexibility is key to managing staffing during the pandemic, says Chris Keeley, assistant vice president at the Office of Ambulatory Care at NYC Health + Hospitals.
In a Health Affairs commentary published on June 11, Keely and several colleagues detailed the public health system’s strategy for managing the hospital workforce when the pandemic surged in the Northeast hard earlier this year. “To care for an immense wave of critically ill COVID-19 patients, NYC Health + Hospitals had to develop new systems and tools to redeploy, recruit, onboard, and train thousands of staff and volunteers in record time,” Keely et al. wrote. For example, the health system automated its onboarding processes to get new providers practicing sooner and through new mediums, like telehealth. Health system leaders also redeployed staff to other areas to manage the surge of COVID-19 patients.
Additionally, Keely emphasized the role communication played in hospital staffing during the pandemic. The health system actually created new positions to facilitate communication between departments and engaged in regular conference calls, daily e-mails, and tele-town halls with community leaders. “Clear and ongoing communication among members of the cross-departmental teams—along with the creativity and flexibility of IT staff—were essential to the smooth and effective operation of the new systems,” Keely et al. wrote.
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