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How HWL and Iroquois Healthcare Association Partnered to Ease the Staffing Challenges of Healthcare Systems Across the Upstate NY Region

upstate works logo with doctors

The Situation

Upstate New York healthcare systems were no exception to the staffing crisis felt by virtually every hospital in the country amidst the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The recent 2022 NSI National Healthcare Retention & RN Staffing Report revealed that the average hospital turnover rate was 25.9% in 2021 – a 6.4% increase over the prior year. Pre-Pandemic, many hospitals relied on traditional staffing agencies to fill their vacancies. By the summer of 2020, reliance had turned into dependence, and there seemed to be no end in sight. Particularly in the more rural areas, hospital executives were faced with the most difficult decisions they could possibly imagine- would they be able to meet the financial demand for contingent labor, with hourly bill rate increases of 100 to 200% or would they inevitably be forced to close their doors on the communities that needed them now more than ever?  


Iroquois Health Association (IHA) a non-profit regional healthcare organization that represents more than fifty hospitals and health systems, spanning over 28,000 square miles, and 32 counties of Upstate NY, listened to the members and knew the time was now to take action, and advocate on behalf of their facilities. 


A Plan Was Set in Motion 

IHA began an aggressive search to find alternative solutions for their members to alleviate the dependence on traditional contingent staffing agencies for desperately needed personnel. The association knew which measures must be in place in order to accomplish change, and that the proposed model would require: 

  • Visibility into the competitive market. 
  • Full transparency into where each dollar was going.
  • A means by which to attract quality clinical talent, and benefit from the transparency that the internal agency model would offer.
  • A credible partner who could be trusted to efficiently create, and manage, a program in all processes leading them to build a locally branded agency in the Upstate and Central various areas of New York.  


The IHA team discovered HWL’s reputation as a leader of innovative solutions within the industry, and within weeks of the initial meeting, a partnership began. “IHA needed an experienced, trust-worthy, no-nonsense team to assist in the building, and implementation, of an internal agency which could potentially benefit every member, whether that be a 50-bed skilled nursing facility, or 500-bed academic center” states Lori Kiesel, HWL Vice President of Business Development. “Our team worked hand in hand with IHA to comprise such a customized program which would allow every member access to the internal agency’s resources, and the tremendous benefits which stem from it. IHA had no time to spare for a lengthy implementation process. They needed action immediately.”


The Positive Outcome

Less than two months later, the plan was executed, and Upstate Works, IHA’s premier internal agency, was launched. Just weeks after, several member facilities had either ‘gone live’ or were in the Implementation phase, and the savings became real. As IHA CEO, Gary Fitzgerald stated in an interview with Spectrum News 1’s Capital Tonight, “In the traditional model, there’s no transparency involved at all…Everyone’s got to see what people are paying.”


Oneida Health, a member of IHA, has seen quality candidates coming through the doors since the implementation of the internal agency. “We have to learn to pivot and be open-minded to what we can do to attract and retain talented folks,” said Anne English, Vice President of Human Resources at Oneida Health, when asked in an interview with Capital Tonight.


Healthcare Workforce Logistics is setting up health systems and contingent staff to thrive through open communication during contract negotiations. The overarching goal is to attract quality candidates, with transparency, and a sense of fairness for all sides when staffing these hospitals that are in great need of healthcare professionals. The development and implementation of an ‘internal agency’ (also known as the private label model) is one of HWL’s many offered programs.  HWL is a leader in the healthcare workforce industry and continues to change the way health systems acquire and maintain their staff. 

Read the full press release here.

November 29, 2022/By Lori Kiesel
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Author: Lori Kiesel

Lori Kiesel joined Healthcare Workforce Logistics (HWL) in 2020 as Director of Business Development. Shortly thereafter, Lori was promoted to Vice President, after proving herself as a leader in new client sales. Prior to joining the HWL team, Lori served as an account executive with one of the largest healthcare staffing agencies in the country for over 20 years. Lori is a native Californian, who now lives in the greater Boston area with her family.
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