Healthcare staffing solutions provider Health Carousel is tackling its newest challenge — connecting clinicians, nurses, and doctors around the country to hospitals hit hard by COVID-19.
As we continue to cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, nearly every industry is struggling to adapt to a new normal — but perhaps none more so than healthcare. As hard-hit states like Louisiana, New York, and Michigan required more clinicians, doctors and nurses to contain the pandemic, healthcare workers nationwide mobilized to offer their services.
Connecting healthcare workers with job opportunities in affected areas is easier said than done — but this is precisely Health Carousel’s specialty. A healthcare staffing agency that offers both short- and long-term assignments, Health Carousel places qualified medical professionals in the areas, specialties, and shifts where they’re most needed.
“Demand for our services has certainly increased because of COVID, but there’s always been a maldistribution of healthcare professionals in the United States that needed to be addressed” Bill DeVille, the co-founder and CEO of Health Carousel, explains. “Health Carousel’s vision is that there’s a qualified healthcare provider for every patient, whenever and wherever they’re needed.”
Mobilizing Care Workers to Combat COVID-19
Prior to the pandemic, Health Carousel was already moving “full throttle,” DeVille says. “We’d been growing organizationally by about a 60 percent compound annual rate since about 2013.” The company is a “recruitment marketing machine,” DeVille explains. “We know how to find, reach out, and communicate with talent. Or to put it simply, we ‘speak clinician.’”
But tackling the novel coronavirus presented Health Carousel’s greatest challenge yet. The increasing number of critical cases brought into sharp relief the demand for qualified staff. According to the New York Times, the US only has about 65,000 critical care physicians and 550,000 critical care nurses for its population of 328 million.
But two major shifts took place in healthcare to address the shortage: first, elective procedures were cancelled, and second, licensing requirements across most states have been relaxed, making it easier to send healthcare professionals across state lines.
Health Carousel had to act quickly to respond to the changing regulatory environment. “We were able to help mobilize the national supply of critical care nurses and send them where they were needed most, then redeploy them elsewhere as fires died down in some locations and got more severe in others,” DeVille explains. “We were able to quickly redeploy people to new cases. For example, CRNAs also have to be trained as ICU nurses, so as the demand for critical nurses surged, we were able to send some CRNAs to ICUs where their skills were needed.”
Health Carousel found that many providers were ready and willing to fight the COVID-19 crisis on the front lines, but they also expressed justifiable concerns. Currently, healthcare workers make up 19 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US. According to DeVille, “A lot of these clinicians are putting themselves directly in harm’s way, and one question that came up a lot was, ‘If I’m a clinician and am exposed to the virus and required to quarantine, and I’m on assignment away from home, will I still get paid?’ So [Health] Carousel made the decision early on that they were going to continue to pay and house clinicians.”
Though the company at the time had no way of estimating the costs, DeVille was adamant that choosing to pay its employees through quarantine was “the right thing to do.”
Adjusting to a Virtual Workplace
Behind the scenes, there are also several hundred Health Carousel employees responsible for recruiting, marketing, placement, account management, and more. Those employees have been working from home for more than a month, but the adjustment wasn’t necessarily an easy one.
“We had a business continuity plan in place, but we certainly didn’t anticipate a global pandemic,” DeVille says. “But we did try to plan for things that we couldn’t anticipate, so we had steps in place for if there was a major event that led to restrictions on travel or public activities.”
Prior to the statewide stay-at-home order in Ohio, the location of Health Carousel’s headquarters, the company had started experimenting with their remote work plan by beginning with select teams. When the order was implemented in mid-March, all of Health Carousel’s main office employees began working from home.
“We’re trying not to be afraid — we’re trying to be fearless, agile, and prepared,” DeVille says. “We’ve always been agile— staffing is, at its core, dynamic. So we’ve been focused on agility since our beginning, but we were really tested by this.”
DeVille is heartened by the way Health Carousel’s employees rose to the occasion. “It was incredibly inspirational to see our entire organization pull together and go into a crisis management mode. Some people worked through nights and weekends, even though no one was asking them to do that,” DeVille says. “We all have a higher calling we’re working toward. We want to make a bigger difference. Our employees are aligned with that higher purpose, and you can see that in their drive.”
Facing unprecedented logistical and operational challenges, Healthcare Carousel rallied — even while apart. “We improve lives and we make healthcare work better,” DeVille explains. “That’s part of who we are and part of our company’s ethos, and it enabled us to do what we could do to make a difference.”