A duel of opinions: where have we made progress in personnel matters?
Healthcare, more than many other industries, has experienced a “great layoff” and staff burnout during the pandemic. But the news isn’t so bad.
MH: Could you provide an update on where your organization is in terms of HR issues?
Maxine Carrington: Luckily, we were able to weather the storm a little better than some. I have been with this organization since 2008. I saw her evolution and development, as well as her investment in people. I think the investment has certainly helped us get through the pandemic. I always say infrastructure, culture and the ability to adapt to change is what really matters. But first of all it is culture.
Dr. Luis Garcia: In general, everyone in healthcare has retention and hiring problems. We used to think that our competitor was the neighboring healthcare system. Now there is real competition with other industries. Think Amazon and the world’s CVS. Everyone is trying to get into medicine. Another problem we face in Sanford is that we do live in a rural area and many counties are federally designated as supply shortage areas.
MH: Has your organization used any “out of the box” strategies to mitigate staffing issues?
Carrington: Even before the pandemic, we talked about the “come back” program: identifying people who have not worked for at least two years, who find it harder to return to work. This includes people who have been in the criminal justice system. The initiative involves partnering with other organizations to [assist] people who have such experience, but they are rehabilitated, looking for a job or training.
Garcia: One thing we’re dealing with is the difference in the expectations of different generations of healthcare workers. The traditional employment model may work for those who have been in the healthcare industry for 20 or 30 years. But this may not work for a new nurse or doctor who needs more flexibility. Therefore, we had to quickly adapt with our advantages and offers.
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MH: Since the pandemic, there has been a lot of focus on staff burnout and well-being. Is there much more to be done? Where are we standing?
Carrington: I would say that this is something that many organizations struggle with. is not [mental health and wellness] services because we have solid offerings and usage is on the rise, but these are people who can be stigmatized. They don’t think they need “help”. So that’s a big part of what we’ve been working on – trying to normalize conversations through storytelling, through being more visible and present.
Garcia: There is increasing talk in the industry about the mental health of caregivers. If you look at the statistics, 61% of post-COVID clinicians believe they went through a period of anxiety or depression, or they still do. One of the things we’ve focused on is the concept that it’s okay to be out of order. … A bad day is normal. And it’s okay to raise awareness about this, because that’s the only way we can help you.