Hiring urgently needed healthcare workers
One of the biggest challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic is the potential shortage of healthcare workers and how to ramp up healthcare hiring quickly.
As the system reaches its maximum capacity and healthcare professionals themselves begin to get sick and need to quarantine, hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities are in need of additional help and backup staff.
Here’s just one example: Last week, more than 160 employees at Berkshire Medical Center in New England were furloughed for quarantine after possible exposure to the coronavirus from patients who have tested positive. A temporary agency was asked to quickly hire 54 nurses who specialize in medical/surgical, intensive care and emergency services.
This is happening all over the country as the crisis worsens, forcing state and federal governments, and staffing and recruiting professionals to ramp up – and get creative.
“Due to COVID-19, there are many positions right now that are crucial,” says Greg Musto, CEO of The Roman Healthcare Group, a member of the Sanford Rose Associates network. “Every hospital across the country is potentiallyshort-handed. As some of our healthcare workers get exposed and possibly come down with the virus, this will place a further strain on an already strained system.”
On the government side, the U.S. Senate approved a bill waiving telehealth restrictions. In New York, the hardest hit state thus far, Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling retired healthcare workers as well as nearly graduated medical students to work – even if that means waiving or fast-tracking the usually stringent certification and recertification requirements.
That still leaves recruiters and staffing professionals to pick up the slack. See how some of them are stepping up, and how you can adapt these solutions for your business.
They’re fast-tracking the hiring process
“For the past two weeks alone we have gotten calls from two to three hospitals every day needing an infection preventionist for a 13-26 week assignment,” says Musto. Systems that normally take one to two weeks to approve contracts for interim candidates are getting approval in mere hours, he says. “The sense of urgency is off the charts.”
Long-time client hospitals are also putting their trust in The Roman Healthcare Group’s vetting process, giving them permission to extend offers. “This week alone we have filled four positions in infection prevention like this and my team is working on two more.”
They’re using remote screening tools
“Video conferencing and interviewing is having its moment right now,” says Bob Bailey, Managing Director of Healthcare IT Leaders, PAC Leaders and Locum Choice. “Every hiring manager in the country should ensure that their recruiters have the tools and knowledge to effectively video screen candidates.” He also points out that it also means helping candidates get up to speed and help them shine on video calls.
Musto agrees, reporting that many more video interviews are being used as a final interview as opposed to candidates going on-site.
They’re seeking help from struggling industries
Rather than trying to find new sources of talent, savvy staffing firms are reaching out to credentialed professionals who are temporarily out of work. “With many schools closed, there are a lot of school nurses out there,” says Dan Peterman, Director of Clinical Staffing at Becker, a talent solutions firm specializing in health. His team is reaching out to school nurses they work with who are laid off, and getting them oriented as quickly as possible to help supplement hospital and long term care needs.
For SavaSeniorCare Administrative Services, which recruits leadership, healthcare talent and support services for their client center skilled nursing homes, the team is currently marketing to the newly laid off service, hospitality and restaurant industry workers. “There are employment needs at a skilled nursing center that align with hotels like housekeeping and dietary staff,” says Lesley Mastalerz, SavaSeniorCare’s VP of Talent Acquisition.
SavaSeniorCare is also thinking ahead and offering training for new staff. “We have opportunities for anyone that is interested in a career change and they like the setting of working with the elderly. We are offering to train them to become Certified Nursing Assistants, paying them while they’re learning on site or offering non-paid online classes to learn at their own pace,” says Mastalerz. Once they finish and become certified, they’ll get an automatic promotion.
They’re doing their part to stop the spread
“The environment right now is such that everybody wants to contribute,” says Renee Becker, Pharm.D., President and CEO of Becker. “If we are putting people to work, we are contributing to the community, and to the company. We’re on a mission to make sure everybody is getting a paycheck.” Not to mention that the employees themselves are eager to do their part to help others, which is indicative of the majority of nursing and healthcare professionals.
But before anyone is sent out to report to a job, Becker created a Covid-19 screening tool that they must complete. “We’re asking them if they’ve been out of the country, been sick, had fever, if anybody in their house is sick,” she says.
For SavaSeniorCare, which recruits healthcare talent for their client center nursing homes, it’s perhaps even more crucial that hiring of new staff be done in the safest manner possible. Besides not allowing non essential personnel to enter the centers, it also means on-site interviewing has come to a grinding halt, opting instead for video-conference interviewing. And, for the workers reporting each day, they are screened at the front door.
They’re staying true to their values
“The closest thing I can compare this to is when 9/11 occurred,” says Musto. “So, as I did then, I am encouraging my recruiting teams to be patient with people, be persistent, and be pleasant.” Candidates, whether they are active or passive appreciate recruiters who are candid, honest, and follow-up, he adds.
At SavaSeniorCare, the team is also focused on giving residents a way to communicate with their families through technology since they can no longer have visitors. And that’s going a long way with families, residents and staff. “What it says is that we continue to hold the care of our residents at the highest priority. Anyone who may consider working with us should see that as a benefit, that we do care so much,” says Mastalerz.
They’re doing what they do best
Healthcare staffers and recruiters often works with partners who are in extreme or dire situations, reminds Peterman. “We built our model around situations like this. Not this extreme, obviously, but we are constantly evolving and growing to help our clients at the drop of a hat,” he says. “This is what we are used to – just on a larger scale.”
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