How 3 ASCs are mitigating staffing shortages

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Staffing post-pandemic has been tricky for many ASCs, whether it’s because of  competing wages or surgery migration.

Scott Smallwood, the administrator of Bend (Ore.) Surgery Center, told Becker's ASC Review that staffing shortages are affecting his facility.

"There appears to be a lack of motivation of the public to fill posted jobs throughout our community, whether that be medical, food industry, travel or retail," he said. "It is having a great impact."

Some ASCs are finding it difficult to compete with hospital wages. 

Sandra Beers, the COO of Pinnacle Surgery Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., told Becker's ASC Review that wages for hospital nurses increased during the pandemic, which has made retention and recruitment for ASCs difficult. 

"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. 

Ms. Beers and the Pinnacle Surgery Center approached this by surveying staff to determine what additional benefits they should offer — staff chose paid time off bonuses and short-term disability. 

Additionally, the center participated in local and state salary surveys to show staff that their pay was competitive.

Olympia (Wash.) Orthopaedic Associates has taken a different approach to solving the challenges of hiring and retaining staff: tuition reimbursement for continuing education.

The center already has sponsored two staffers to take a 10-month medical assistant certification course.

"With all the costs of recruiting, why not find good, dedicated employees who want to further their careers and give them an opportunity? We opened it up to our staff and had people apply," Olympia Orthopaedic CEO Ben Shah told Thurston Talk.

Kathy S. Witham, RN, BSN, clinical co-director of the Surgery Center at Pelham in Greer, S.C., said her facility experienced a similar problem regarding  staffing shortages paired with a caseload increase.  

"We are offering flexible schedules, competitive salaries, as well as compensation for our current staff," she said.

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