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Staffing urgently needed healthcare roles

Staffing urgently needed healthcare roles

One of the most consistent challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the shortage of healthcare workers. As healthcare facilities reach maximum capacity, hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare providers have experienced an urgent need for additional help and backup staff, so healthcare staffing has had to get creative.

Unfortunately, as COVID-19 cases spike to new levels, we’re in a similar situation today as we were in the first few months of the COVID-19 crisis.

“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 potentially short-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.”

That leaves recruiters and staffing professionals to pick up the slack. See how some of them stepped up during the first wave of the pandemic and continue to help meet urgent needs today–and how you can adapt these solutions for your business.

Fast track the hiring process

“At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a two-week period we got calls from two to three hospitals every day needing an infection preventionist for a 13-26 week assignment,” said Musto. Systems that normally take one to two weeks to approve contracts for interim candidates got approval in mere hours, he said. “The sense of urgency was off the charts.”

Long-time client hospitals put their trust in The Roman Healthcare Group’s vetting process,  giving them permission to extend offers. “In one week alone we filled four positions in infection prevention – and that was typical,” he said.

Use remote screening tools

“Video conferencing and interviewing took a front seat at the start of the pandemic,” 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.

Seek help from struggling industries

Rather than trying to find new sources of talent, savvy staffing firms reached out to credentialed professionals who were temporarily out of work. “With many schools closed, there were a lot of school nurses out there, and in some cases, still are,” says Dan Peterman, Director of Clinical Staffing at Becker, a talent solutions firm specializing in health. His team reached out to school nurses they work with who are laid off, and got 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 recruited 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.

Do your 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.

Stay true to your 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.

Do what you 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.”

If you want to arm yourself with the latest resources for HR and recruitment advice during the nursing and healthcare staffing shortages, take advantage of Monster’s free job postings to hire healthcare workers quickly and efficiently.