The COVID-19 pandemic has focused the spotlight on the safety of frontline healthcare workers. From the onset of the pandemic, high nurse-to-patient ratios and a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) have created substantial provider strain, while excessive overtime and burnout put additional risk on patients and clinicians. Coupled with rapidly evolving education and best practices for treating the virus, staff and travelers at healthcare facilities have faced numerous safety challenges.
Medical Solutions works closely with facilities to ensure their staffing needs are being fulfilled quickly, with the safety of our travelers at the forefront of the staffing process. Medical Solutions has experienced firsthand how the pandemic reshaped the way travelers are prepped and educated for assignments, and how COVID-19 will have lasting effects on the way the healthcare industry evaluates clinician safety alongside patient safety and the quality of care.
Our very own Amber Barna, BSN, RN, Vice President of Clinical and Quality Assurance, has seen COVID-19’s impact on the healthcare industry and clinician safety in various ways.
Overcoming initial obstacles
Early in 2020, travelers, along with the entire healthcare industry, faced brand new challenges. In addition to PPE and equipment shortages and a general lack of knowledge on COVID-19 early on in the pandemic, travelers were needed in assignments as quickly as possible. This meant the education and preparation period for their placement was shorter during a time in which critical information on the virus and its treatment was constantly being rewritten.
Medical Solutions diligently educated and prepared clinicians on how to respond to shortages and limited resources at facilities. Likewise, Medical Solutions’ clinical leadership team continuously improved their support and frequency of touchpoints with travelers at facilities nationwide—and further enhanced their employee assistance program—to alleviate the physical and emotional strain caused by the pandemic. The clinical leadership team also experienced a tremendous rise in travelers sharing ideas and best practices based on what they have learned in their assignments—building camaraderie among all travelers and clinical leaders when they needed unity most.
Informing the future of patient and clinician safety
The pandemic’s impact on patient and clinician safety and the resulting quality of care will have long-term effects for facilities and healthcare workers. Over the past year, the library of research and literature on best practices for patient and clinician safety has expanded rapidly. As a result, clinicians have an updated ‘playbook’ that will assist them with delivering exceptional patient care if faced with another global health crisis.
Likewise, learnings from the strain placed on healthcare workers during the pandemic can help facilities recognize how they should bolster their staffing needs and increase flexibility to combat prevailing industry trends, such as the nurse labor shortage.
Raising awareness of healthcare heroes
The immediate strain COVID-19 put on healthcare workers has fortunately brought silver linings, including well-deserved recognition of courageous and resilient clinicians who have been on the frontlines for nearly a year. Displays of public support and admiration for our “healthcare heroes” could play a positive long-term role in aiding the nurse staffing shortage. What’s more, amid the shortage, retired nurses and individuals who had left the field returned to support fellow healthcare workers, helping to improve patient ratios during the most critical time for the industry.
From the onset of the pandemic, healthcare facilities have battled numerous challenges, but COVID-19’s impact on clinician safety and the quality of patient care will be seen for years to come.
If you are looking for a healthcare staffing partner and are interested in learning more about our services, you can contact our team online or call us directly at 1-866-633-3548.