Staffing shortages are taking a toll on ambulatory surgery centers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. ASCs have had to overcome numerous obstacles to remain open, staffed, and profitable amid delays, cancelations, and ongoing changes. Now, a year and a half into the pandemic, ASCs are still encountering staffing difficulties, which can lead to overextended resources and canceled cases.
Here are three of the main reasons that staffing shortages are an ongoing problem for many centers.
- Staff Retention
Staff retention during COVID-19 is challenging. Some ASCs had to furlough or lay off employees last year and are not yet back up at full capacity. Employees who remained may be experiencing burnout after managing a heavier workload. Some centers that now want to rehire staff are struggling to do so for a variety of reasons: previously furloughed or laid-off employees aren’t ready to return because of childcare, safety, or other concerns, or ASCs can’t compete with the much higher salaries hospitals are offering new hires.
- Surgery Migration
The pandemic has led to hospitals across the country limiting surgeries, accelerating the migration of clinically appropriate procedures an inpatient to an outpatient setting. Overall, this is a positive trend for ASCs. But for centers that are short-staffed, this shift can put an additional burden on already depleted resources.
- Inconsistent Case Volume
While surgery migration is overwhelming some ASCs, others are still trying to build their caseloads back to pre-pandemic levels. Patients may cancel elective surgeries because of COVID-19 — for example, symptoms, positive test results, or fears of exposure — or centers may cancel procedures because of scheduling or staffing issues. Inconsistent surgery volumes make it complicated for centers to maintain the appropriate amount of staff, creating a cyclical staffing problem.
Learn how working with a full-service anesthesia partner can help your ASC solve staffing problems, increase patient satisfaction, and improve revenue cycle management.