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How to Combat the Healthcare Staffing Shortage During a Pandemic

Locum tenens, nursing, and allied health professionals are essential components in the battle against coronavirus (COVID-19) and all of its variants, including the highly contagious Delta variant that has caused recent spikes in cases. Healthcare Workforce Logistics (HWL) is offering healthcare delivery organizations a rapid response staffing program designed to meet urgent staffing needs driven by increased demand for healthcare professionals and shortages of core staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic.    


Free Surge Staffing Program for Healthcare Delivery Organizations

HWL’s Surge Staffing Program was designed specifically for the fight against COVID-19 and with our vendor-neutral model, advanced technology, and large national network, our team can connect healthcare delivery organizations to their 100+ agency consortium within 24 hours.


HWL is deploying clinical staff during patient surges including:

  • Physicians
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physician assistants
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Registered nurses
  • Nursing staff

Just as the State of Georgia has put it into action, states across the country can benefit from the ability to staff their facilities with healthcare professionals in and around their areas. Our recent work with Phoebe Putney Health System is a testament to the effectiveness of our surge staffing program and commitment to the strategic deployment of human capital across the United States.


Phoebe Putney Health System Profile

Phoebe Putney
Image source: www.phoebehealth.com

Location: Albany, Georgia
MSA Size: 151,000
Rate of Incidence per Capita: 3rd in the nation
Rate of Death per Capita: 4th in the nation
Capacity Expansion: Over 100 additional beds needed for COVID-19 patients, including the reopening of available space at Phoebe North and construction of modular units.
Personnel Required from HWL Network: 600+ nurse and allied staff; 70+ physicians.

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How Phoebe Putney Leveraged Technology to Meet the COVID-19 Staffing Surge

Cough. Fever. Shortness of breath. The wave of patients reporting similar symptoms throughout the Phoebe Putney Health System was odd but initially not alarming—that is, until word came on March 10th that a patient who was transferred to Atlanta three days earlier had tested positive for COVID-19.

In the days following the first diagnosis, all 14 medical ICU beds at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital were filled with COVID patients. They converted 12 cardiac ICU beds, then 12 surgical ICU beds—all filled in a matter of days. The next step in the battle was to open COVID units at Phoebe North, a hospital that had ample clinical space that was unused or being used as office space. But making space for patients was just one concern—first and foremost was finding providers to care for them, and the usual staffing methods were not working.

As the situation in Albany worsened, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced the state’s partnership with HWL and its parent company, Jackson Healthcare. At Phoebe, HWL was charged with the responsibility of sourcing all of the staff required to deliver patient care for COVID-19 patients, including all nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, advanced practitioners, physicians, and non-clinical personnel.


Technology Leading the Process

“There’s no doubt, having the HWL technology platform makes everything so much easier at the hospital,” explains Karen Little, the HWL Account Manager for the locums program. “At any time of day, Phoebe Putney’s staffing specialists can go into one central system, submit needs, review CVs, and click a button to accept a provider and begin the process of credentialing, so he or she can get to the hospital as soon as possible. The HWL VMS system is working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to find providers.”


The Results 

Using the HWL technology platform and contracted suppliers, the initial request for 230 nurses was met in twenty days. For the reopening of Phoebe’s North Campus, they needed another 129 nurses and at least 6 FTE physicians (approximately 55 locums), plus dozens of non-clinical staff.

While a typical HWL rollout would take 6-8 weeks, the successful COVID-19 Rapid Response Surge Staffing Program deployed at Phoebe Putney was possible because of HWL’s extensive experience using next-generation technology to staff hospitals and health systems across the country and its existing relationships with over 100 staffing vendors.


In less than a week HWL staff:

  • Assessed staffing needs
  • Configured the technology platform
  • Contracted 36 staffing agency providers within 48 hours

“Phoebe was able to increase our capacity to care for COVID-19 patients substantially and quickly only because of HWL’s focused and immediate attention. We were amazed at their ability – in a short timeframe – to deliver the hundreds of physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals necessary to stand up multiple new COVID-19 units. They came through, allowing us to provide the care our community needed in a time of crisis.” said Joe Austin, President and CEO, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.


Increase Capacity for Care While Preserving Vital Resources

HWL’s superior solution helped Phoebe Putney and its dedicated healthcare professionals save the lives of their COVID-19 patients by delivering 100% of the supplemental physician, nursing, and allied health professionals needed. Just as importantly, HWL’s vendor-neutral, open market approach created competition among agencies that generated significant savings versus initial cost estimates. 

Whether your healthcare organization’s staffing challenges are the result of the pandemic crisis, re-opening facilities once elective surgeries return, or optimizing the utilization and cost associated with agency labor, HWL’s program management services and VMS technology is designed to deliver high-quality healthcare professionals at competitive market rates.


Read the full case study or contact the HWL team for more information on how we can assist your health system increase capacity and meet rising staffing demands during the pandemic. 

July 10, 2020/By Jeff Niles
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Author: Jeff Niles

Jeff is Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Healthcare Workforce Logistics and has been in healthcare contingent workforce management for over 15 years. Jeff has led sales, implementation, and client services to some of the largest and most influential healthcare providers with technology and solutions installed in over 3,000 hospitals in 50 states and the UK. Jeff is inspired to work with transformational leaders that have a vision to achieve the highest levels of efficiency, transparency, compliance, quality and cost savings. Contact Jeff at jniles@hwlmsp.com OR 630-913-6629
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