Ed Lovern of Ascension St. Agnes discusses personnel and operational issues

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the industry and it is still having worrisome effects. At this point in 2022, what impact will the pandemic have on operations?

We don’t think about it as much as we did in the past, but it’s still with us. We have about 5 to 10 patients in the hospital each day who are positive for COVID, and although our staff are very familiar with the care of these patients and their varying severity, it still requires all personal protective equipment, all personal protective equipment—A different level of care than you are dealing with when there are patients without COVID.

What are the HR challenges for you?

It’s global. It affects all of us. I have benefited from taking on the role of chair of the Maryland Hospital Association’s Task Force on Maryland’s Future Health Force, and I have had the opportunity to visit other hospitals and ways they solve that problem and talk to other experts.

First, we’ve focused a lot on trying to broaden our roadmap to get more people into the healthcare sectors, and there are a lot of different ways to do that. One of the things we’re doing more of is collaborating with nonprofits: closer relationships with community colleges, with universities, with training nonprofits. employees, because we wanted to know where we could draw from. Another aspect is making sure we’re reducing any barriers to people getting healthcare education. We know there can be around 20% dropout rate for nursing students and there is a chance to get more package services. For example, if we could cut the dropout rate in half, more people would enter the workforce.

We recently had a program that took some of our employees and put them through training for LPN certification and one of the aspects of that program was to make sure that we paid them in real time. time they study. We have to really think about all these aspects of how people succeed when they go back to school, so they can go back into the workforce.

What would you say about the overall payroll shortage situation compared to the period of 2020 and 2021?

I think 2022 is clearly the worst year and we’re really starting to see it reach towards the end of 2021. I think it’s been driven by the phenomenon of having a lot of agency labor being required by the agencies. Different regions of the country are experiencing spikes in COVID. I think it’s based on people’s burnout factor that they’ve been through, the attitude they need to make money while there’s an opportunity to make money. It really changed perspective. It’s important to say that I have full respect for the way workers have gone about it. If I had the same offers, I think I would consider the same opportunities.

A place like Ascension has always done a great job of making sure we have programs to support our employees and the ways we’re looking at employee wellness, but I think in the future it’s going to have to change and even even more severe. We are working with a number of local nonprofits and service agencies to be able to provide those services in the hospital. So much has been put online, which is great and makes it convenient and accessible, but really think about how people have those personal contacts, so that when they have a problem, topic – any kind of issue, whether it’s financial, emotional or career-oriented – they have a place to go where they can talk about it.

It doesn’t have to be a competitive opportunity. Again, with my work on the Maryland Hospital Association task force, we have been very cooperative. There are many ways that hospitals can work together to provide those services.


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