Staffing plans post-vaccination deadline
As the delta variant spread throughout our community and pushed our hospitals beyond their resources, Asante leaders called out for help. In August, that help began to arrive to respond to the surge. We now recognize turnover associated with the vaccine mandate will create further strain.
We are still working to understand the staffing gaps this will create as the mandatory vaccination deadline approaches. We will strive to ensure staffing to accommodate patient care but recognize that this may impact services and interdepartmental operations. We’ll make the best use of existing resources while developing longer-term solutions.
The Oregon Health Authority funded a “strike team” of 65 critical care, 35 med/surg nurses, 15 respiratory therapists and nine paramedics, who were distributed throughout our system based on staffing needs.
This support was contracted through Jogan Health Solutions and is a bridge for eight weeks until longer-term temporary staff arrives through AMN Healthcare Staffing.
OHA is also funding the longer-term AMN contract staff, and we so appreciate the state’s responsiveness to this crisis. AMN contract staff have started to arrive and will be here through December. We will make additional emergency staffing requests through Oregon Emergency Management as we learn which departments have the greatest need. We also continue to fulfill needs through Asante-funded contract labor.
In August, the state sent Asante 150 Oregon National Guard soldiers to serve in nonclinical roles, which frees up our employed staff for other critical functions.
These men and women are helping to man the COVID-19 hotline; performing screening duties; supporting Environmental Services; couriering test specimens from collection sites to the lab; delivering meals; serving as patient safety monitors; controlling traffic and many other needed support services. We can’t thank them enough for their dedication to their country and our community. They will be with us until Nov. 30.
Our community has also stepped up. Local disaster-relief RNs — retired nurses, nurses working in outpatient roles and nurse practitioners — are coming back into our hospital to help support our teams on four-week intervals. We will continue to look at how this can provide staffing support and consider expanding to ancillary areas.
Our own Asante staff have also been going above and beyond to support our patients and teams. We will consider reallocation and cross-training clinicians to work in multiple sites. Throughout the pandemic many have been working in new environments as we open new units or sending our knowledge and skills to the patients wherever they are instead of having them come to our knowledge and skills. These are examples of teamwork at its finest.
We will continue to consider our emergency shift premiums for critical areas to recognize staff for picking up extra shifts to support their co-workers.
All this support is critical to serve our community as the pandemic peak decreases and beyond. This support has provided a literal lifeline to our patients. We thank them and the Asante employees who have gone above and beyond these past several weeks to care for our community. Please know how deeply we appreciate your sacrifice.
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