COVID-19 exacerbated staffing shortages for ASCs nationwide.
Here are seven ASC leaders on staffing issues in the industry:
Catherine Retzbach, RN. Administrator of Memorial Ambulatory Surgery Center (Mt. Holy, N.J.): There will be merging and consolidation of centers as the providers and staff continue to age out. If the medical provider shortage pans out as predicted, it will force consolidation.
Linda Deeming. Center Director of Salud Family Health Centers (Fort Lupton, Colo.): In the next six months, staff retention is at the top of our list. Those who were not furloughed during COVID-19 are feeling "exhausted" from doing duties other than their "regular assigned" positions. Those who were furloughed or laid off are not "ready" to come back to work for a variety of reasons. As we have started operations towards a more-normal mode, we are certainly struggling with getting up to normal staffing and keeping the trained staff we currently have. The budget is also a concern; it's certainly a balancing act that is not easy at this point.
Anne Shippen, RN. Nurse Administrator of MedStar Surgery Center at Timonium (Md.): We actively work to maintain an energetic and positive environment to help with staff retention, seeking to evaluate staff satisfaction and adjust accordingly as able. We have been doing total joint cases for several years now and are excited about the prospect of total shoulders coming off the IPO list. We recently were able to start offering robotic assisted TJ replacement, as well.
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.
Brock Kreienbrink, MSN, RN. Administrator and Director of Nursing for the Outpatient Surgery Center of Central Florida (Wildwood): COVID-19 has disrupted our growth in ways of staffing. Staffing costs are through the roof. We are a cardiac-only facility, and our staff are highly specialized. COVID-19 has created travel opportunities for these employees at unheard-of prices. The combination of staff leaving our market at significant levels and the increase of ASCs/catheterization labs/hospitals in our market is draining the staffing pool — which is causing major inflation in the staffing cost to compete for these employees.
Jerry Orloff. CEO of Southern Eye Center (Hattiesburg, Miss.): There is a substantial upward pressure on wages due to a combination of recent increase in inflation in the economy in general, wage inflation based upon competition for qualified staff and a reticence on the part of some parties to return to work following COVID-19 closures.