Frederick Health Steps Up Recruitment Efforts as Pandemic Turnover Hits High | Hospitals and doctors

With staff turnover higher than before the pandemic, Frederick Health is stepping up its recruitment efforts.

Overall healthcare system turnover is currently about 16% — the highest in the past two years, said Chris Bumbaugh, vice president of human resources at Frederick Health. Clinical staff turnover is just below that figure, he said.

Before the pandemic, staff turnover was around 12%, Bumbaugh said.

Staffing shortages coupled with unprecedented patient surges prompted Frederick Health Hospital to adopt crisis care standards in early January as the highly infectious omicron variant of COVID-19 peaked in Frederick County.

The hospital exited emergency protocol – giving staff the ability to channel their limited resources to those most in need – last month.

The main reasons for turnover at Frederick Health are retiring staff and people seeking employment in nursing agencies, Bumbaugh said. The healthcare system has also seen more people leave for family reasons – such as child care issues – during the pandemic, he said.

Staffing issues at Frederick Health are mirrored in medical centers statewide and nationwide. Staff turnover at hospitals nationwide currently stands at around 20%, Bumbaugh said. Statewide, hospitals have a vacancy rate of more than 25% for nurses, according to the Maryland Hospital Association.

The relatively low turnover rate of the local health care system is emblematic of the dedication and commitment shown by its employees, said director of nursing Diane McFarland. It also shows that Frederick Health is a great employer, she said, adding that the health system has maintained annual salary increases and benefits for its staff for the past two years.

“Throughout this time, we have never been able to provide care or admit patients because of the staff,” she said. “We worked very hard on very unique ways to be able to staff hospital beds so that we could care for anyone who came in through the community emergency department.”

Still, McFarland acknowledged that staffing levels at Frederick Health and hospitals across the country will not return to pre-pandemic levels overnight. It’s going to take time, she said.

To help employees with clinical tasks, such as respiratory therapy and skilled nursing in the emergency room and intensive care unit, Frederick Health has temporarily hired staff from nursing agencies, Bumbaugh said. .

In terms of more permanent staffing solutions, however, the healthcare system is focusing on “building pipelines” internally and within the community to hire employees for hard-to-fill roles, such as pharmacy technicians. , physician assistants, nursing assistants, surgical technicians, registered nurses and phlebotomists, Bumbaugh said.

Frederick Health recently decided to hire a workforce development specialist to pursue this goal, he said. This person will make the county aware of the career opportunities available at Frederick Health, Bumbaugh said, and help staff who work in other areas of the health system get the training, education and certification they need to pass. to other jobs at Frederick Health.

It’s important for Frederick Health to begin recruiting efforts with potential employees when they’re young, Bumbaugh said. The health system hosted career fairs at local high schools and the County Career and Technology Center to give students an idea of ​​what working at Frederick Health would be like and help them plan next steps for their education.

Frederick Health also contacted local college and university leaders and established a task force to better introduce students to the healthcare system early in their higher education careers. This has helped schools understand what the health system needs in terms of skills and positions — information that will help them develop their programs, Bumbaugh said.

McFarland, who has worked for Frederick Health for nearly five years, emphasized how much she appreciates all that health system staff have done over the past two years.

“They really are the heroes,” she said. “The community of Frederick is very, very fortunate to have such a dedicated hospital in its community.”

Follow Angela Roberts on Twitter: @24_angier