Pandemic burnout: How 4 ASC leaders are managing staff fatigue

Here's what four ASC leaders told Becker's ASC Review about how they are addressing potential staff and physician burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Note: Responses have been edited for style and length.

Mark Spina, administrator at South Shore Surgery Center in Bay Shore, N.Y: Every patient scheduled for outpatient surgery must get a COVID-19 test within five days of the scheduled surgery date. Those that test positive are canceled for surgery until they obtain a negative test. So staff knows that any patients coming into the center are negative for COVID-19.

We still take extra precautions, and because of this, staff is not exposed to COVID-19 patients like hospital staff. None of my staff have gotten the virus.

The only "fatigue" staff has is having to constantly remind scheduled surgical patients to go for their COVID-19 test within five days of their scheduled surgery. We rotate staff that communicates with patients prior to surgery, so that helps staff from getting burned out.

Rishi Parikh, MD, of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Center in Richmond, Va.: Having a supportive team around me during this pandemic is critical to avoid emotional fatigue. Each morning our team has a morning huddle where we remind each other of what matters the most, practicing excellent patient care together.

Robert Carpenter, MD, Medical Director of Allegany Ambulatory Surgery Center in Cumberland, Md.: I feel that there are some strengths in having a small, tightly knit team during these periods of rapid change. Being agile has allowed us to review our local communities' transmission and incidence rates and react very quickly to accommodate local conditions on an almost weekly basis.

Frequent communication among all team members is conducted to review current case rates, explaining changes in our procedures stimulated by our local community incidence, allowing staff input and questions about our reaction processes, and providing frequent encouragement and reassurance that this is a fluid situation that we will get through.

Since I am the surgeon, medical director and boss, ensuring a unified, clear message and garnering cooperation of both physicians and staff has not been an issue. In short, I believe our surgicenter has benefited from our ability to react quickly and communicate well to minimize the needless frustration that engenders burnout and fatigue.

Moiz Carim, MD, of Carim Eye and Retina Center in Reading, Pa.: We are making sure that we are stocked up at all times, because this has been a significant challenge in the past. We are also doing a COVID-19 test on all patients undergoing general anesthesia. Of course [we are] doing social distancing in the waiting room.

Note: This article was edited Nov. 15 to update a title.

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