September 20, 2021

How to Staff Up for Flu Season (If You Haven’t Already)

Are you staffed up for flu season? Here’s a cost-effective plan to keep sick leave to a minimum and get external support when you need it.

Despite much advanced fear about a double pandemic, last year’s flu season was a bust. Given where we are now with the uneven rollout of COVID vaccines and usage of masks, this year’s flu season is more uncertain. As such, it is critical that healthcare facilities prepare a plan for highly volatile staffing needs.

The first part of that plan: help your core staff stay well during flu season to reduce the need for external support. Next, add flexibility to your staffing model to make best use of your employees as well as your local, per-diem talent pool. Here are a few ways to accomplish both that will benefit your team all year long. 

Sick workers, stay home

nurse blowing nose during flu season

When healthcare professionals catch the flu, they risk passing it on to coworkers and patients. If they transmit influenza to an older adult or an individual with a severe chronic illness, it becomes a major health concern.

It’s not enough to tell your staff to stay home when they’re experiencing influenza-like symptoms. Staffing managers and human resources must implement policies that support the decision to call in sick.

Flexible leave policies, dedicated sick days (instead of combined PTO), and creating a culture that prioritizes wellness will go a long way toward discouraging clinicians to show up to work sick. When someone does need a sick day or two, don’t put others’ health at risk by encouraging overtime. Instead, get near-immediate backup by posting open shifts to a marketplace app such as CareRev. Within minutes, you’ll get your needs met by a fully vetted, highly qualified, rested professional.

Minimize overtime

burnt out nurse working overtime

Long workdays are associated with insufficient sleep and workplace injuries according to a recent meta-analysis. Insufficient sleep brings about a host of health conditions, including heart disease, obesity, and a weakened immune system.

Employers, including hospitals, must take steps to limit overtime. Establish a standard and/or maximum number of working hours to mitigate the negative health effects of excessive overtime. In an environment dedicated to improving patient health, the health of its people must come first.

Cross-train staff

nurse cross training another nurse

Provide additional training so clinicians can take on roles outside of their usual job. Cross-train nurses in non-patient-facing specialties to handle basic patient-facing roles, for example. A nimble approach allows you to fill staffing gaps more easily. Cross-training also allows you to staff top-of-license, allowing higher-skilled nurses to focus on higher-acuity patients.

When you need specialized staff, tap into CareRev’s local network of experienced professionals. CareRev provides hospitals, outpatient centers, and long-term care facilities with qualified RNs, CNAs, MAs, surgical techs, and others, all available through an app-based marketplace. 

Optimize your float pool

Is one facility understaffed while another has clinicians sitting idle? It’s time to evaluate your float pool. CareRev’s Cascade feature allows staffing managers to maintain optimal staffing levels across departments by posting open shifts to their internal resource pools.

When a clinician calls in sick, you can move staff from a low-demand facility to cover their shift. If you still need support, Cascade automatically broadcasts shifts to CareRev’s local pool of qualified professionals.

Incorporate a marketplace platform

nurse picking up shifts with carerev marketplace

If your staffing model doesn’t include a healthcare marketplace platform, evaluate vendors before flu season reaches its peak. With access to a robust marketplace such as CareRev, you have access to the local, flexible professionals you need in a pinch. 

Use the marketplace platform for vacation and sick leave fill-in and during other times of high demand. CareRev takes care of the onboarding, and you don’t have to pay the bill rates and expenses that come with travelers. 

The Delta variant and flu season combined could keep hospital volumes high. Take extra precautions to keep workers healthy to minimize shortages due to sick leave. When you need support, app-based marketplaces like CareRev are here to fill in, offering a wide network of healthy clinicians ready to pick up shifts in a pinch.

Want to see what CareRev can do for your facility?

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