ASCs, particularly independent centers, have long struggled to retain staff as they compete with high-paying hospital jobs, and this issue was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But some ASC leaders have found strategies that worked. Twenty-four leaders recently joined Becker's to discuss the major decisions they made this year that changed their organizations for the better, and many said that focusing on work culture and internal communication was their biggest key to success.
"If I had to pinpoint one specific change that had the biggest positive impact on our surgery center, I would have to say our efforts toward increased visibility, communication and accessibility of the surgical coordination staff and associated surgical departments within,"
Vianka DeJesus, operations manager at New York City-based NYU Langone Health and NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital, said. "Interdepartmental communication has allowed for increased efficiency within the preoperative and postoperative process, leading to patient satisfaction and better overall care."
With the initiative, they were able to improve patient satisfaction and employee engagement.
Focusing on improving work culture for other ASCs involved more tangible benefits.
"We have made a very intentional focus to ensure we remain competitive in both compensation and benefits to not only local ASCs but also hospitals. In addition, we make it a priority to remind our employees that they are valued," Michael Powers, administrator of Knoxville, Tenn.-based Children's West Surgery Center, said. "We can do small things such as buy special pens, provide lunch or desserts, food trucks and in fact ice cream trucks, and Christmas lunch and gifts each year. Showing the employees in many ways that they are valued and appreciated and how they fit into the overall scope of what you are doing is a great tool for employee retention."
Some ASCs have taken more substantial measures. Genevieve Kragness, PhD, RN, nurse manager of surgical services at Marshfield (Wis.) Medical Center, and her team were able to adjust their block schedule to a four-day work week. The move has increased block utilization as well as employee satisfaction.
Not all adjustments have required investment — some ASCs have found success implementing smaller communication-based changes.
For Alyson Hughes, MSN, RN, director of nursing at Gulf Breeze, Fla.-based Andrews Institute Surgery Center, improving communication involved three steps: daily leadership huddles, monthly newsletters and monthly staff meetings.