Medical Staffing Agencies – the New Normal For Replacing Talent Lost During Covid-19

By lisa,

It’s Time to be PROACTIVE Rather than REACTIVE to Staff Your Facility

When Covid-19 reached pandemic status in early-March, it created the perfect storm tocause further upset to an already struggling healthcare system. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the need for RNs was increasing rapidly, at a rate of more than 200K  annually, because of the aging Baby Boomer population. While keeping up with the pre-Covid demand was taxing for many facilities, keeping staff in place during the pandemic became even more unmanageable.

In preparation for Covid-19, hospitals and medical centers were forced to delay or cancel the financially healthier part of their enterprise: elective and out-patient procedures and surgeries, to make room for demanding and less-lucrative COVID-19 patients. “To remain solvent, they had to lay off trained staff and very often, all or part of their talent acquisition teams” said Lisa Wilson, VP of Operations at OPA Staffing.

Specialty clinics are facing their own regimen of challenges. “Like the rest of us, healthcare providers occasionally get sick, and they need to be confident that their patients along with their teammates are being taken care of when they are unable to come to work., added Rachael Nuscher, BSN-RN who works at a dialysis clinic. “Having qualified candidates that are ready to step in when needed would alleviate the stress that healthcare workers feel when these things arise.”

As healthcare worker shortages were front and center on the national nightly news cycle, laid off healthcare employees formerly employed to support elective surgeries and preventative care procedures, received little or no coverage.

“There is a lot of noise in the healthcare community right now. Penetrating that noise during Covid-19 is the challenge for medical staffing companies. It is not business as usual,” said

Stephen E. Deason, CEO of OPA Staffing. “Now is the time that meaningful partnerships become more instrumental to navigate the challenges ahead. Drs. offices, clinics, and medical centers were forced to lay off much of their talented labor force due to the priority-shift caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” added Deason. “As society is reopened, there will be an increased demand for healthcare staffing. In particular, skilled talent will be needed for elective surgeries; such as hernia, cataract, knee and hip replacements, cosmetic and more.”

As elective outpatient and non-urgent admissions within healthcare systems ramp up, staffing shortages are imminent, as well as stiff competition in meeting their specific facility requirements. “A large talent pool was turned loose during Covid-19,” added Denel Sims, Director of Recruiting at OPA Staffing. “We are actively recruiting those people.

“Healthcare facilities need to plan ahead and establish a pipeline to be ready when society reopens and the uptick happens,” added Director of Staffing Operations, Chris Wiley. “That’s one way to meet the challenge of locating and hiring talented, trained, skilled healthcare workers quickly.”

Using a medical staffing company provides a pipeline of qualified workers quickly and also mitigates liabilities should the uptick not be sustainable. “We are in unchartered-territory. There is potential for a down turn,” added CEO, Deason, “and if that is the case, utilizing a medical staffing agency such as OPA Staffing, provides significant flexibility in times of uncertainty and risk.”

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Are You Ready for Peak Covid-19?

By lisa,

Key Take Aways

  • Nurses are more important than ever. 
  • Nurses are primarily responsible for the implementation of        isolation practices.
  • Innovative approaches are needed when managing infections requiring isolation.
  • Adjust workload measurements to accommodate infection prevention and control procedures.
  • The classic debates (1) on transmission route and (2) on special isolation techniques may not matter in the face of insufficient clinical resources.
  • Nursing and clinical healthcare support staff are needed in sufficient numbers now more than ever. 

 The COVID-19 pandemic accelerates changes already underway in the healthcare workplace. In our present situation, the complexities of caring for patients with infectious co-morbidities have increased exponentially, and the potential impact on the job functions of clinical staff and healthcare workers has never been greater. 

That said, our US-based healthcare workers already know how to handle infectious disease. Prior to our current pandemic, the daily work of healthcare professionals has been impacted by the worldwide increase in Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, vancomycin-resistant enterococci, and Clostridium difficile.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic is stretching our healthcare system’s ability to cope. According to a recent scientific study by Kaba et al. (2017), there are at least three main impact areas:

  1. The daily work of healthcare staff has been impacted by an increased and increasing number of infections requiring isolation.
  2. Nursing care and healthcare in general has expanded to include the management of multiple infectious diseases, often overloading healthcare staff and creating backlogs.
  3. A 2017 case study in the American Journal of Infection Control suggests innovative approaches are needed when managing infections requiring isolation – including adjusting workload measurements to accommodate the increased time necessary for infection prevention and control procedures. 

Unfortunately, hospital and healthcare systems are often resistant to process or procedural change. In fact, the proverbial timeline between a discovery and the implementation of said discovery in clinical practice is 17 years.  In our current pandemic, this “science to service lag” could easily create significant healthcare challenges.

Backlogs and overloading of clinical staff is the inevitable result – raising concerns around the quality and continuity of care.

As Jackson and Lynch (1985) note, nurses are the persons primarily responsible for the implementation of isolation practices. In their study, two relevant themes for today emerged.  First, we have not settled the transmission question establishing the importance of the airborne route vs. the importance of contact with moist body substances.  And, second, we have not settled the question of whether special isolation techniques are needed for persons with diagnosed infections vs. the potential that all persons harbor potentially infectious agents.

All this said, the cumulative impact of additional infection prevention and control appears to result in trade-offs and cutting corners. Backlogs and overloading of clinical staff is the inevitable result – raising concerns around the quality and continuity of care. 

So, regardless of your approach or the stance you take on the above debates, what is clear is that having sufficient personnel in place is critical.  Your nursing and clinical healthcare support staff are needed in sufficient numbers now more than ever.  

Articles Cited:

A descriptive case study of the changing nature of nurses’ work: The impact of managing infectious diseases requiring isolation.

Kaba A., Baumann A., Kolotylo C., Akhtar-Danesh N.

(2017) American Journal of Infection Control, 45 (2), pp. 200-202.

Isolation practices: A historical perspective

Jackson M., Lynch P.

(1985) AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control, 13 (1), pp. 21-31

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