Last week I shared tips on how agencies can prepare talent for assignments during an outbreak – but what about new staff being onboarded as hospitals and senior living communities?

The COVID-19 crisis requires that senior living communities protect vulnerable residents and hospitals must prepare for an onslaught of ill patients, and these facilities will need a lot of contingent clinical and support workers to meet extraordinary demand for healthcare.

Here are eight tips to help your agency’s clients meet that need while keeping your staffing talent safe:

  • Make sure that clients provide full descriptions of assignments. Your staffing workers need to be able to make an informed decision about whether to accept an assignment based on the risks, the client’s emergency preparedness, and so on.
  • Query clients about their protective measures. Does the client’s facility have a plan to safeguard staff against COVID-19? Only 29% of nurses surveyed by the National Nurses Union reported that their healthcare facility had a plan in place to isolate patients with a possible infection and 23% said that they didn’t know if the facility had such a plan.
  • Connect with the Infection Control Safety Officer. While an on-site visit is not recommended, stay in contact with how the facility is handling infection control, what personal protective equipment is available for staffing talent, and what safety protocols are in place.
  • Make sure contingent workers have parity with permanent workers in terms of access to personal protective equipment. It goes without saying that staffing employees should be given the same protections as their permanent-employee counterparts facing comparable risks.
  • Ask how information on infection control is conveyed to workers on all shifts. Every employee should receive the same training. For example,if workers on the day shift are given a live demo of safety protocols but evening and overnight shifts can only watch a video of these procedures, the latter will be at a disadvantage.
  • Work with clients to ensure that staffing employees receive all appropriate special training. Workers should receive this training before their first exposure to patients or residents who might have COVID-19.
  • Verify the facility’s protocol for timely testing of workers who may have been exposed to an infected person. Only 19% of nurses report that their employer has a policy to address employees with suspected or known exposure to novel coronavirus. It’s important to know the facility’s criteria for testing and sending workers home – for the wellbeing of both the staff and residents and patients alike.
  • Hold clients responsible for apparent gaps in agreed protective measures. A national emergency is no excuse for facilities that let anything slip when it comes to worker safety. Make sure your staffing talent confirms that the client is meeting its safety obligations.

About Manny Gagliardi

Manny Gagliardi is Managing Director, CTM at HealthcareSource. An 11-year veteran of the USAF working in both emergency medicine and military recruiting, he began working in the healthcare staffing industry in 1990 as travel recruiter and over a 15-years span held executive positions in several staffing companies. Having always supported the utilization of technology in staffing, he joined a small startup offering SaaS software solutions to the healthcare staffing market in 2002.