Cleveland health system implements new staffing strategies amid COVID-19 surge

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Cleveland-based University Hospitals has implemented multiple initiatives as part of a systemwide strategy to provide staffing support amid a COVID-19 surge, according to a Sept. 30 hospital statement sent to Becker's. 

The hospital — operating under its hospital incident command system — has had recent preparation efforts "complicated by the recent surge of COVID-19 cases," according to the hospital statement. 

New efforts to mitigate staffing shortages include:

  • Recruiting University Health staff who work in non-bedside patient care roles to help at the bedside.
  • Consolidating operating room schedules to more efficiently flex perioperative staff into other areas based on need.
  • Incentives for caregivers who are willing to work additional hours or flexible schedules.  

Additionally, the system is reassigning some caregivers at UH Bedford and UH Richmond medical centers to other higher-volume UH hospitals. The two hospitals will reduce the number of inpatient beds to 14 each. UH Bedford will also close its operating rooms for the time being. 

UH remains committed to serving the community's healthcare needs and said many departments, including the emergency department at UH Richmond, are unaffected by the staffing reassignments.

"These moves are for an indefinite period of time as we sustain patient care and continue an ongoing analysis of our UH clinical operations model," the statement reads. "The actions we take now reduce the likelihood we will have to defer elective procedures for our patients in the future."

The organization concluded that it is committed to providing quality care for all patients while meeting the demands presented by a nationwide shortage of nurses and other providers. 

Nearby Cleveland Clinic forecast models predict area hospitals will see the highest volumes of COVID-19 patients over the next several weeks as a local surge peaks. Cuyahoga County was reporting 5,179 virus hospitalizations and 977 intensive care unit COVID-19 admissions as of Sept. 29. The county includes three Cleveland Clinic locations and seven University Hospitals locations, among others.


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