Return to Work with Support from AMN’s Experts
In collaboration with Texas Hospital Association Foundation and Texas Healthcare Trustees, we are pleased to offer this education related to returning to work. Recording of the webinar is below, as well as a summary of its content.
By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
After months of working from home or furloughs resulting from COVID-19, many people are looking forward to going back to work. Employers must take steps to ensure those staff members remain as safe as possible, which can be a daunting task. AMN Healthcare’s Return to Work Healthcare program offers an all-in-one resource for flexible solutions.
“COVID-19 will continue to shape the market directly for months, but will have lasting effects for years following,” said Travis Singleton, executive vice president of AMN Healthcare Leadership Solutions, a grouping of companies that specialize in workforce recruitment and solutions from executive roles to frontline clinical providers. “Employers of all sizes simply cannot wait for the market to ‘normalize.’ It’s time to put a plan in place that offers flexibility to adapt to whatever comes.”
Unfortunately, state departments of health, federal agencies such as HHS/CMS and clinical bodies such as CDC are not creating such plans. Accountability to develop a strategy which offers employees a safe and productive work environment lies squarely with employers.
“The wait-and-see mentality we’ve all fallen victim to is no longer tenable as COVID becomes a lasting part of our ecosystem. Not having a plan is not an option anymore,” Singleton said.
Planning is Key
While nothing stops companies from simply saying “come on back to work,” businesses should develop and execute an in-depth plan to keep workers safe, mitigate risk and create a healthier workplace.
AMN recognized that not all businesses have the time or talent to develop and implement their own plans. That’s where AMN Healthcare’s Return to Work Healthcare Workforce Solutions comes into play.
The program offers a tailored, modular approach to guide both healthcare organizations and nonhealthcare companies in developing a plan that aligns resources with client needs.
AMN Healthcare is the largest publicly traded staffing and workforce solutions company in the United States. It places more than 50,000 providers nationwide annually. It has staffed large testing sites, temporary “pop-up” hospitals, laboratories, all levels of governments, major medical centers and rural hospitals. AMN’s team of professionals has direct COVID-19 knowledge.
“The best return-to-work programs utilize lessons learned from industries with front-line knowledge,” Singleton said.
With its extensive experience, AMN brings management and planning expertise, staffing options, technology and proven systems to your door. Its team of professionals will collaborate with you to build and execute a custom playbook based on your exact needs over the long-term.
“We need to think of the return to work like an obstacle course rather than a 100-yard dash,” Singleton said.
Safety: A Top Priority
“The guiding principle is the safety of patients or employees,” Singleton said.
The plan must include providing the right type of personal protective equipment (PPE); testing and screening protocols; employee throughput; nonemployee interaction, handling vendors, clients, cleaning crews and other nonemployees entering the business; communication; and management.
AMN’s experts will compare testing patterns and best-in-class systems to create a flexible, scalable and modular plan tailored to your company.
“Companies simply don’t have the resources, experience or budget to create in one of the most trying economies we have seen in decades. As such, many will need a third party with access to resources, clinical workforce and advisory services to help put the most financially prudent solution that still offers the safest workplace possible,” Singleton said.
Pathway to a Safe Return
Particularly for smaller firms, the plan might start off with telehealth screenings, because it is economical and functions well. The telehealth option must be Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant, allowing bidirectional communication. Triage and monitoring can take place on the telehealth platform. Data and analytics are stored at a single place.
Then as employees return, take daily temperature checks. A variety of equipment is available. Some require a licensed operator, and some have Bluetooth capabilities, which will sync with the telehealth platform.
Another step, COVID-19 testing, may or may not be as necessary as initially thought, Singleton said. Not all COVID tests are created equal. You must decide when, if and what type of COVID-19 testing is right for your setting and risk. Access to testing kits, adequate lab support for faster turnaround times and licensed clinical staff to administer are just some of the issues to navigate. This can be complicated if companies require mass-testing of hundreds, if not thousands, of employees simultaneously for events or risk stratification.
COVID-19 testing largely requires a prescription from a provider in many cases. AMN Healthcare can provide that resource via direct care, community based or virtual settings.
Highly visible, essential and regulated industries, such as airlines or food processing, may need to test hundreds or thousands of employees at a time, on multiple occasions, which can be cost prohibitive if results aren’t adequate for immediate triage, Singleton said.
“Someone who has been through this before can save you money,” Singleton said. “You only want to invest where technology and risk mitigation via channel partners aren’t sufficient.”
Communication with employees should come from the company in addition to clinical based organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he said. Reminders are needed constantly and in the employees’ first language and should cascade through different channels like social media, smart phone, telehealth applications, video, etc.. It is important that employees hear from their own leadership to provide the change management needed for such strain to the business.
Contact tracing needs accurate and timely data to provide adequate analytics that can be operationalized; an area where AMN has extensive technology and experience. The person handling this aspect of the plan should work closely and coordinate with the local health department and various other government agencies across the country to maximize capabilities.
A positive COVID-19 test requires quarantine management. Telehealth can help with communication, but also provide a secure method of remote patient monitoring and provider outreach when needed. This should be done with the upmost sensitivity to employee health and safety offering multiple avenues for team members to share concerns, questions or other thoughts.
On-site clinic support can vary from performing temperature checks and tests to triage to a fully operational clinic with medical staff, beds and equipment.
“Employees are more apt to use healthcare facilities if they are on site if virtual means are insufficient. Several studies have shown increased participation with minimal disruption as compared referral only networks,” Singleton said.
AMN Healthcare has the experienced professionals, telehealth system, and communication tools, which can be leveraged to support employees safely returning to the workplace.
“We allow organizations to come back as strong as they possibly can,” Singleton said.
LEARN MORE by filling out the short form on AMN’s COVID-19 Return to Work page.