How 8 leaders are solving the biggest challenges at their ASCs

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From supply shortages to caseload decline, here's how eight ASC leaders are tackling the biggest challenges at their ASCs:

Supply chain:

The biggest challenge for Kyle Dorshorst, clinical director of Ambulatory Surgical Center of Stevens Point (Wis.), is navigating supply shortages.  

"With ever-increasing costs and shortages, the need to be creative and utilize resources has never been more crucial," he said. "We have found it more and more difficult to obtain our supplies, with several being on backorder and unavailable at various times."

He has mitigated this by diversifying the chain — using various vendors and multiple pathways, as well as ordering slightly different supplies that still fit the center's needs. 

"Our materials manager has been great at working through these challenges to get the supplies we need for continued operation," he said. "We have to be creative and agile, which is something that ASCs are great at."

Caseload decline:

Many centers have seen caseload decline post-pandemic, and ASCs have had to adapt to increase those numbers. 

Valerie Miller, BSN, RN, the clinical director of Texas Endoscopy in Plano, told Becker's ASC Review that her center has been experiencing a caseload decline. She said she solved this by hiring a scheduler for colonoscopy screenings.

Karen Rouse, the clinical manager of Plainfield (Ill.) Surgery Center, also said she has struggled with increasing surgical volume. 

Her center adapted by switching the ENT service line from "children to adults who want sinus surgery."

Training new staff:

Open communication is key for many ASCs onboarding new staff members. 

Grace McGovern, BSN, RN, the director of nursing at Galileo Surgery Center in Atascadero, Calif., has tackled the challenge through collaboration and communication. 

"We watch, do, then teach. The team must be able to work together to elevate the bar for those that need more training," she said. "The team has been doing a great job taking new team members under their wing to help keep the ASC safe and efficient."

She has also increased one-to-one communication to address the strengths and weaknesses of individuals, as well as provide specialized training for those who need more guidance. 

Case denial:

Karen Rouse, the clinical manager of Plainfield (Ill.) Surgery Center, said she's seeing a lot of denials from insurance companies "based on surgeons not doing the conservative treatment first and having this documented in their office records."  

She's been addressing these challenges by providing the offices with a copy of the MCG Health guidelines. 

Staffing shortages:

Competing with hospital wages has always been tricky for ASCs, but the pandemic exacerbated these issues for many ASCs.

Sandra Beers, COO of Pinnacle Surgery Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., told Becker's ASC Review that the need for hospital nurses to care for COVID-19 patients drove wages higher. 

"The trickle-down effect is that we, and most physician-owned ASCs, are creatively looking for ways to keep staff and at the same time maintain profitability," she said. 

The center surveyed staff to determine which additional benefits they should offer — the staff requested paid time off bonuses and short-term disability. 

Storing equipment:

Jennifer Cornelius, the clinical director at North Memorial Ambulatory Surgery Center in Osseo, Minn., told Becker's ASC Review that her center is having trouble storing new equipment and instruments.

"We have had to be very creative in our space management and utilization," she said.

Adapting to change:

ASCs are known for their ability to pivot quickly to changes. 

Carrie Marut is the director of nursing at Mentor (Ohio) Surgery Center. She's only worked at her position for three months, and her biggest challenge so far is adapting to changes. 

"When a new person comes in and looks at the processes of a surgery center, change is inevitable," she said. "We work through it together. A lot of discussions are had, and input from the staff are taken very seriously. Teamwork is the key to success and implementation of new ideas."

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