What we heard this week: 6 insights

Ariana Portalatin -

Healthcare providers have given Becker's insight on a number of topics this past week, including COVID-19 surges, how to remain competitive and career decisions.

Six insights shared with Becker's:

What Florida ASCs are seeing as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge
Chukwuka Okafor, MD. Spine Institute of Central Florida (Lakeland): [Hospital executives] anticipated [the delay] would be for three weeks, but with the numbers of COVID-19 patients filling up hospitals on the rise, there is a good chance that the hold on elective surgeries will continue beyond three weeks. Initially the hold was on elective surgeries requiring overnight stay in the hospital, however, after 24 hours of this type of hold, the hold was changed to all elective surgeries, even if it required only 30 minutes of post-surgery stay. As you can imagine, that leads to lots of frustrated patients.

9 ASC leaders on vaccine mandates
Jonathan Kaplan, MD. Owner of Pacific Heights Plastic Surgery (San Francisco): This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That's the only reason it's been able to break through in the few cases for the vaccinated patients. Far and away, most people in the hospital are unvaccinated COVID-19 cases, so we are going to do our small part [to stop the spread]. If you're coming in for a procedure, cosmetic or reconstructive, you have to be vaccinated. It keeps our employees safe and their families safe, and I think it's also safe for all the patients coming in to minimize the chances that we have a delta variant in our office.

6 physicians share their best career decisions
David Sun, MD, PhD. Norton Healthcare (Louisville, Ky.): Medical school, graduate school and residency are rigorous and challenging, but extremely narrow in focus. We learn nothing about healthcare economics — how hospitals run, how an office is managed, how doctors get reimbursed. To really understand the industry, it's all on-the-job training and seeking out opportunities. If someone asks you to sit on a hospital committee or work on an administrative project, say "yes." First, it's the best way to challenge yourself to learn new things. Second, if you say no, they're never going to ask you again. It may be intimidating to be outside of that narrow focus, but the best decision that I made in my career was to say "yes."

Standalone ASCs can stay competitive through recruitment strategy, 1 CEO says
Lisa Cooper. CEO of Santa Cruz (Calif.) Surgery Center: The continued trend of consolidation will make it an even tighter staffing market. The race to recruit and retain staff will become stiff with large management companies having their own staffing registry to flex up and down as needed. Standalone centers with fewer than 30 employees will need to be resourceful to remain relevant and attractive to the continued shrinking market of experienced operating room nurses and scrub techs. This staffing crisis has been compounded with COVID-19 as many households have made dramatic changes with the living situation and educational plans. Looking back, having busy surgeons has always been key to attract talent and remain competitive in this market. Going forward, having busy surgeons will not be the key driver — stability with staffing and ongoing training programs will be critical to future success.

Texas ASCs brace for hospital spillover, but another PPE shortage could spell disaster
Alfonso Del Granado. Administrator of Covenant High Plains Surgery Center (Lubbock, Texas): Last year we had an unacceptable number of patients who delayed necessary treatment and ended up needing more invasive, riskier procedures, and I would not want to repeat the cycle. While hospitals should take reasonable steps to protect their populations, the overwhelming weight of the responsibility must fall on the governor's shoulders, and I would hope he will also take reasonable steps to protect those same populations.

Florida proof of vaccination ban burdens ASCs as COVID-19 surges
Robin Yeager, RN. Director of Operations and COO of the Advanced Ambulatory Surgery Center (Altamonte Springs, Fla.): The challenge in Florida in comparison to the California ruling is the contradiction to the executive order restricting businesses from asking for proof of vaccination. We had seen a decrease in patient satisfaction when visitors were not allowed to be in the surgery center while the patient was being treated. People want to be present and available when loved ones are having invasive procedures. We want to be compassionate as well as responsible, which is becoming increasingly difficult as the variants of the virus continue evolving.

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