Why ASCs are still struggling with staffing shortages

Some ASCs are still experiencing staffing shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three administrators spoke to Becker's ASC Review on how staffing issues are stressing their center's resources. 

Here are three reasons ASCs are having difficulties staffing their facilities:

1. Migration of surgeries to ASCs

Cherie Whiting, PhD, RN, is the administrator for Lakeshore Surgery Center in Fort Gratiot, Mich. She told Becker's ASC Review that COVID-19 surges in Michigan led to hospitals limiting surgeries. 

This resulted in surgeons shifting their cases to her center and subsequent resource shortages. 

"That is a welcome shift, but is complicated by the strain on resources. Part of that strain is caused by state regulations which don't take into consideration vaccination," she said. "Vaccinated staff who are exposed to COVID-19 must isolate the same as non-vaccinated staff who are exposed, so during the surges we are often short-staffed while trying to accommodate larger numbers."

2. Lack of childcare 

Krista Vickers, RN, CEO and administrator of Grossmont Surgery Center in La Mesa, Calif., said her facility is experiencing shortages as well. She said a lot of her team stepped down or moved to part-time because of school closures and day care over-capacity — they had no one to take care of their children. 

"As a result, we are using heavy registry nurse volume and find that we have less consistency with the care that we provide," she said. 

3. Hospital offers

Barbara Pederson, RN, is the center director for the Endoscopic Surgical Center of Maryland in Silver Spring. Her center is experiencing shortages because hospitals pay nurses more than ASCs can offer.

"The stress of the pandemic has affected many staff members to seek different positions," she said. "The hospitals are paying nurses extremely high salaries with contract employment, which often includes a sign-on bonus. ASCs cannot match what the hospitals are offering."

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