To ensure coordination of staffing needs associated with COVID-19, Augusta University Health has implemented its alternative staffing plan for patient care services.
The plan calls for the reallocation of some staff who have or are anticipated to have a reduction in work hours due to reduced patient volumes or a temporary discontinuation of patient care services.
As health care workers nationwide are being furloughed or asked to take pay cuts, AU Health is committed to reassigning patient care workers, including nurses and other non-physician providers, to deliver care for COVID-19 patients.
“Health care workers are our most valuable asset,” said Dr. Phillip Coule, vice president and chief medical officer for AU Medical Center. “Temporarily reassigning staff from areas of low demand to assist with the response to COVID-19 provides support for COVID-19 patients and keeps those workers on the job. Now is when we need all hands on deck.”
Coule acknowledged that while the reallocation of some staff to ICUs and other high-acuity areas may be uncomfortable at first, additional cross-training over the next week should make staff feel more at ease.
“Our staff is truly remarkable,” he said. “No matter what challenge they’re faced with, they always step up and out. They lead through adversity, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing now, as staff provide coverage across a continuum of service lines.”
Coule said that while places like New York are projected to hit the virus peak this week, Georgia isn’t projected to see its peak until mid to late April, giving the health system additional time to prepare.
“Every day we hold a call with our patient care and operational support teams to talk about our current staffing levels and additional areas where focus is needed,” he said. “We also have a call twice a week with a larger team dedicated to COVID-19 response. We’re well prepared but remain flexible, especially when it comes to putting staff where we need them most.”
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