Understaffed and overworked: ASCs still shorthanded despite caseload recovery

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Despite actively recruiting new employees and a return to pre-pandemic caseloads, some ASCs still are experiencing major staffing shortages — leaving centers overworked and exhausted. 

Here are four ASC administrators who are struggling to staff their centers:

These answers were edited lightly for clarity.

Barbara Overbey. Administrator of Ridge Lake Ambulatory Surgery Center (Memphis, Tenn.): We have utilized agency nurses as well as increased our salaries for registered nurses, but the agencies are saying they do not have enough staff either. We have four surgery centers and have consolidated two due to staffing issues, and are considering consolidating the other two if this situation does not improve. 

Our caseloads are back up to pre-COVID, but it is causing the staff we have to get burned out. We are having great difficulty even getting people to show up for interviews. As for the ancillary staff, some of those employees make more money from unemployment than they would working, especially with the price of childcare factored in.

Wendy King, BSN, RN. Director of The Corvallis (Ore.) Clinic Surgery Center: We have had a lot of difficulties recruiting despite having many open positions. We have been short-staffed many days, and it is tiring. We had employees that took unemployment, and sometimes unemployment paid more than if they were working so they chose to stay home with their children, who were out of school. We also had employees that looked for other positions and employees that stayed at the facility but were very anxious. 

Cherie Whiting, PhD, RN. Administrator for Lakeshore Surgery Center (Fort Gratiot, Mich.): Many people would rather stay at home on unemployment than work, causing a difficulty in filling positions. We have "help wanted" signs up and down our streets and few applicants. 

Lori Callahan. Executive Director of Algonquin Road Surgery Center (Lake in the Hills, Ill.): I have found it more difficult to find applicants willing to work over the last year. A lot of applications but usually a no-show to the interview, or they're unable to contact after the

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