Hospitals are currently experiencing significant coronavirus-related staffing issues, from filling ICU shortages to keeping clinicians healthy and rested for their next shift.

In today’s interview, Kaufman Hall Senior Vice President Therese Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, explores how hospitals can effectively manage their staffs during the pandemic, from engaging outside agencies to helping caregivers cope with stress. As patient populations surge, organizations can create staffing plans that scale up accordingly, redeploying nurses in education roles or nursing leaders in successive waves.


In other hospital staffing developments…

Hospitals in New York—currently the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic—are rapidly redeploying specialists, surgeons, and ambulatory care physicians to frontline clinical roles, the Wall Street Journal reports. The city is also activating its reserve of 9,000 medical professionals, and 1,000 retired physicians and nurses have agreed to return to clinical service. Hospitals nationwide have also begun reaching out to recently retired clinicians, or convincing current staff to delay impending retirements, to build up and sustain their staffs for the pandemic.

The Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) is encouraging hospitals to develop a tiered staffing strategy for intensive care units. The SCCM recommends that a team led by a critical care physician provide care for up to 24 patients, in partnership with non-ICU trained physicians and nursing staff. The strategy is intended to help meet a gap in intensivists, by increasing the number of professionals who can assist with mechanical ventilation and other ICU responsibilities.

Hospitals and health systems are not the only organizations rapidly increasing their staffing capabilities. Telehealth vendors, including Doctor on Demand and 98point6, are aggressively recruiting physicians to meet skyrocketing demand for virtual visits, which were recently approved for Medicare beneficiaries. It’s likely that the ongoing shift to physician virtual visits—by telehealth outfits and hospitals alike—will be accelerated by the current crisis, and continue along the same path if and when the pandemic subsides.


In Brief