Flu Season Causes Healthcare Staffing Challenges
This year’s particularly widespread flu season is putting a strain on healthcare facilities across the nation.
Between ERs flooded with patients with flu symptoms and hospitals already too short-staffed for the influx of new patients, oftentimes facilities find themselves in a difficult position when their reputations and the public’s health is on the line.
NEXTLocums can help cover your staffing needs so your patients receive the care they so desperately need.
Why is this year’s flu season so bad?
According to the CDC, hospitalizations are on the rise because the most common influenza strain this season is the H3N2 strain. “When H3 viruses are predominant, we tend to have a worse flu season with more hospitalizations and more deaths,” said Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Director of the CDC.
“In terms of the numbers, this week in the FluView we’ll report there’s 22.7 hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the United States. That’s up from 13.7 last week, so that’s almost doubling in terms of the numbers, just in the last week.”
Hospitalizations are especially high for some of our most vulnerable populations; those over 65, the Baby Boomers, and children younger than 5.
Why does the flu season cause considerable staffing problems?
Flu season, generally peaking between December and March, can oftentimes last well into May. During this time healthcare facilities can experience a huge influx of patients.
Hospitals in California are reporting setting up large “surge tents” outside the ER to treat the wave after wave of flu patients they are seeing. In Alabama, UAB Hospital canceled elective surgeries to make room for more flu patients.
Hospitals around the nation are asking staff to work overtime and calling in physicians who aren’t scheduled to work.
Add this heavy patient volume, with healthcare providers themselves having to call off when they become sick with the flu and you have a serious shortage on your hands.
How can you address your shortages?
Reach out for help! Call a trusted locum tenens agency to help you quickly recruit physicians to help on a temporary basis. At NEXTLocums we pride ourselves on attracting top talent so facilities can seamlessly fill their coverage gaps.
Give your providers the time off they need. Despite coverage gaps, the last thing you should do is to overwork your current staff. Physician burnout is a very real problem the industry is facing, so make sure they are getting the time off that they need.
Plan early for next year’s flu season. Start planning well before October of this year for next flu season. Have locum tenens workers ready as a part of your strategy to combat your shortages before they happen.