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Staffing Plans for Winter Surges

As South Carolina hospitals prepare for a second wave of COVID patients during the 2020-2021 winter, SCHA has assembled a list of local staffing options they can consider and explore. The demand for registered nurses during this pandemic is outstripping the supply, which means hospitals will need to implement different staffing models focused around team nursing or nursing delegation models, like when an RN team leader works with and assigns appropriate tasks to a team of unlicensed assistive personnel, LPNs, technicians, etc.

  1. Assess needs and post jobs for any temporary staff you may need. Qualivis hosted an informational webinar this week and provided advice for how to efficiently source temporary staff. View that webinar and share with your team as appropriate.
  2. Identify paramedics to serve as RN support. Partner with flight or transport EMS providers to identify critical care paramedics who can provide support to your nursing staff. Hospitals can subcontract with EMS providers to use their workers as temporary staff, or hire paramedics to work for the hospital under a different job title that still enables the use of their critical care skill sets.
  3. Survey current staff and partner with community organizations. For those staff who have been unable to work due to children being home or doing virtual school, now is the time to offer flexible work arrangements to bring them back. Consider the flexible work shifts or assignments you can offer to fill staffing gaps. Partner with the local YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, faith community, or other community-based organization to provide virtual school day camps so that employees can work.
  4. Partner with nursing schools to hire nursing students. Under current state law, nursing students can be used as unlicensed assistive personnel. Partner with nursing schools to identify nursing students that could be hired to provide support for your nursing staff.
  5. Partner with local SC Works centers. Partner with local SC Works centers to actively target and recruit recently unemployed individuals for unlicensed support roles, nutrition/food service, environmental services, etc. View contact information for local SC Works centers.
  6. Use CMAs to administer vaccines. Recently SCHA presented to the SC Board of Medical Examiners to ask for board approval for Certified Medical Assistants (CMA) to administer vaccines, under a physician’s order. The BME approved that request and we are awaiting final language on the board’s order. This will enable hospitals to use CMAs in vaccine clinics, allowing nursing team members to provide care at the bedside.
  7. Partner to start apprenticeship programs. In the past several weeks, numerous hospitals have started conversations with Apprenticeship Carolina and their local technical college to explore starting apprenticeship programs to create a local supply of health professionals. There are federal grant funds available currently to help supplement the cost of creating these programs. To find out how to get started, contact Lara Hewitt.

For more information on any of these options or anything else related to staffing needs, contact Lara Hewitt or Morgan Bowne.