COVID-19 Staffing Analysis: How U.S. Facilities Are Coping

Last Updated on April 4, 2022

Healthcare worker hands at computer with covid-19 data and stethoscope on table

2020 is proving to be a dramatic time, when public life and business have been overturned in startling ways — and when the strain on the healthcare system has never been greater. In this brief staffing analysis, we take a quick look at how healthcare facilities and organizations across the U.S. are coping with the effects of COVID-19, and what the government’s doing to help.

Meeting Staffing Needs With Travel Nurses & Clinicians

The use of travel nurses and clinicians is a natural solution for many organizations that are looking to scale up their clinical personnel as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. We live in a time when a new and still little-understood virus is ramping up utilization in unpredictable ways, and travel services are proving key to helping rural parts of America cope with the surge.

Travel nurses and therapists are typically available for several months a time, giving facilities the chance to bring on additional workers or replace specialists during times when demand is high and local labor limited.

The utilization of travel nurses is perceived as safer than alternate means of ramping up staff, like calling older workers out of retirement. Traveling nurses, writes Kirk Siegler for NPR, “tend to be younger and more mobile and could play a key role in filling at least some gaps in rural hospitals struggling to prepare for the coronavirus.”

The fact that the rules for cross-state licensure have been recently ease in light of the coronavirus crisis makes the use of travel nurses all the easier, too. “That’s making it easier for travel nurses to move from state to state, avoiding sometimes duplicative applications and screening,” Siegler notes.

Coronavirus Staffing Analysis: Striving for Solutions

The move to ease intra-state licensing for nurses, doctors and other clinicians is part of the federal government’s efforts to avoid a situation in which hospitals and healthcare facilities are hopelessly inundated with more patients than they can treat. To that end, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has also set up accelerated and advanced payments.

Specifically, the CMS “is expanding a program of accelerated and advance provider payments normally used during natural disasters to supplement the cash flow of Medicare participating healthcare providers and suppliers,” reports Medscape’s Ken Terry.

That’s no small panacea but a meaningful benefit at a time when some systems are imposing pay cuts on doctors because of the decrease in certain procedures. In other areas, some health professionals who don’t ordinarily work with infectious disease patients are going above and beyond the normal boundaries of their specialties to help to treat victims of COVID-19.

There’s no magic formula for dealing with these unprecedented challenges, and each facility’s way forward will be unique to its size, patient profile, state and local community. Yet any type of facility can also improve its odds of maintaining care with the help of staffing specialists who offer sophisticated and proven healthcare managed services.

These managed service providers (MSPs) are almost custom-designed to meet the challenges posed by the current pandemic. As we discussed in last week’s staffing analysis, MSPs can provide facilities with a rich layer of benefits that includes:

  • Access to more nurses and clinicians.
  • A larger pool of specialists.
  • The speed to instantly adapt.
  • A workflow that keeps clinical staff healthy.
  • Help with security and risk management.
  • One-size-fits-all business continuity.
  • Around-the-clock crisis management.

Need Help Finding the Right Staffing Solution?

Companies that offer full managed staffing offer not just protection and scalability, but the power to cut costs at a time when traditional payment models are out the window. To learn more about how we can help, contact us here, or submit a staffing request here.

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