March 1, 2021

Volume XI, Number 60


March 01, 2021

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CDC Issues Strategies to Mitigate Healthcare Staffing Shortages

On April 30, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance titled Strategies to Mitigate Healthcare Personnel Staffing Shortages. As maintaining appropriate staffing levels is essential to providing both a safe working environment and proper patient care, the guidance offers a series of recommendations on contingency plans that healthcare providers experiencing staffing shortages may wish to consider. The guidance also highlights the importance of communicating mitigation strategies clearly to healthcare professionals to help alleviate some of the “anxiety and stress” they may be experiencing while working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fundamentally, the CDC urges healthcare facilities to evaluate their staffing needs to determine the minimum number of personnel “needed to provide a safe work environment and patient care.” Once a facility understands its minimum staffing needs, the CDC recommends the facility reach out to local, state, and federal public health partners for assistance in identifying additional healthcare professionals who are available for hire, when needed.

In addition, the CDC recommends healthcare facilities proactively:

  1. adjust schedules and/or rotate healthcare personnel to positions that support essential procedures, visits, and patient care activities;

  2. hire additional healthcare personnel;

  3. “develop[] regional plans to identify designated healthcare facilities or alternate care sites with adequate staffing to care for patients with COVID-19”;

  4. develop plans regarding when and how healthcare personnel who have had an unprotected exposure to SARS-CoV-2, but who are asymptomatic and not known to be infected, will be allowed to continue to work; and

  5. develop plans regarding when and how healthcare personnel with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 may return to work.

For healthcare facilities already facing staffing shortages, the CDC recommends implementing crisis strategies, including developing regional strategies to send patients to alternate healthcare facilities or alternate care sites and beginning to allow asymptomatic healthcare professionals who have had an unprotected exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (but who are not known to be infected) to continue to work subject to recommended risk mitigation measures. As a last resort, if staffing shortages continue despite the use of other mitigation strategies, the CDC recommends implementing criteria to allow healthcare professionals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases to work, even if they have not met all of the CDC’s normal return-to-work criteria. If a healthcare facility chooses to implement this type of plan, the CDC offers detailed recommendations regarding additional precautions to take.

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About this Author

Molly E. Nephew Employment Attorney Ogletree Deakins Minneapolis, MN

Molly is an associate in the Minneapolis office of Ogletree Deakins. Molly graduated cum laude from Hamline University School of Law, where she also earned her Dean’s List honors and a certificate from the Dispute Resolution Institute that recognized her studies in alternative dispute resolution. While in law school, Molly was an Associate Editor of the Hamline Law Review, received the CALI Excellence Award in Negotiation, and placed in the Top 20 of the 2015 International Chamber of Commerce Mediation Competition in Paris, France. Molly received her undergraduate degree...

Cynthia Bremer, Minneapolis, Office Shareholder, Employment, Labor, Attorney, Ogletree Deakins Law FIrm
Office Managing Shareholder

Cynthia Bremer is the managing shareholder of the Minneapolis office. Cynthia has extensive experience in employment law and complex litigation matters. Her practice focuses on representing corporations and corporate management in all types of employment law matters. While Cynthia’s primary focus has been employment litigation defense in federal and state courts throughout the Midwest, including class and collective actions, Cynthia also advises companies on critical employment law issues involving past and present employees. Further, Cynthia has litigated numerous restrictive covenants...

Michael Oliver Eckard Employment Attorney Ogletree Deakins

Michael Oliver Eckard is a shareholder in the Charleston and Atlanta offices and has been an employment lawyer at Ogletree his entire legal career. Michael represents companies in labor, employment, restrictive covenant, and wage and hour matters in the health care, manufacturing, chemicals, hospitality, transportation and logistics, and retail industries, among others. He regularly advises companies on human resources and labor policy issues. Michael represents his clients in many types of employment litigation matters, including wrongful termination claims, sexual harassment claims,...