3 ways hospitals can combat nurse stress this flu season

Flu season can be a stressful time for nurses, who must treat high levels of flu patients while often covering for coworkers who are out sick.

The stress of flu season can also magnify existing understaffing issues at many facilities and contribute to nurse burnout. However, simple management strategies can help mitigate this stress, according to Will Eadie, global vice president of strategy for WorkJam.

He shared three ways hospitals can better support nurses during flu season:

1. Promote communication and proper education. Hospitals need an effective system to communicate flu information, handwashing procedures and other flu-related policies to staff and patients across the healthcare ecosystem, according to Mr. Eadie. This can help limit the spread of flu and limit confusion or frustration among nurses.

2. Give nurses the ability to take off if they are sick. Healthcare organizations must also have an agile scheduling process in place to easily source a replacement for a sick nurse's shift. "At the same time, nurses should have the ability to pick up a shift when they're feeling better, so they're not losing hours," Mr. Eadie told Becker's.

3. Track compliance. The third strategy centers on tracking shift compliance from a communication, training and staffing standpoint. Hospitals need a way for nurse managers to digitally track employees' compliance for practices like mask changes or hand hygiene, while also keeping tabs on staffing levels, according to Mr. Eadie.

"When you combine these three things, you're really putting together a closed loop system for a campaign to address the flu and nurse fatigue," he told Becker's, adding that these strategies can ultimately help reduce nurse fatigue — especially at the manager level — limit burnout and prevent high nursing turnover.

More articles on clinical leadership and infection control:

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New Jersey hospitals' vaccinations down, C-sections up despite value-based incentives

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