The more we’re down in staff, the more we must cut back patient encounters. It’s an issue across the healthcare delivery food chain that negatively impacts everyone. —Myles L. Pensak, MD
Explore This IssueJanuary 2021
“This is true from reception staff through attending physicians,” said NYU family nurse practitioner Brittany Millman Glickberg, who works with Dr. Roland. “During the peak of the pandemic, our residents, PAs and NPs, and many attending physicians altered their roles in the hospital to help treat acute COVID-19 patients in whatever capacity was deemed necessary and also within the ENT scope of practice.”
Some hospitals and practices were very fortunate in avoiding COVID-19 infections among their staff. “We’ve been really lucky in our department,” said J. Pieter Noordzij, MD, vice chair of clinical affairs, department of otolaryngology, Boston University School of Medicine. “As far as I know, we’ve only had a few staff members who’ve contracted COVID-19, with no significant cluster outbreaks in our department.” Dr. Noordzij added that not only have his department and hospital taken precautions very seriously, but so have both the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts, with a governor who’s been vocal about the benefits of wearing a mask and social distancing.
While staff in other areas of Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center came down with COVID-19, some of whom worked in the OR, Dr. Devaiah said staffing wasn’t a problem because this coincided with the mandate to slow clinical operations and move away from elective visits in person to reduce exposure risk and hospital burden. And when they realized they were going to have to furlough some staff during the shutdown, departments asked for volunteers.
“There were a certain number of staff who were scared to come to work and wanted to furlough, and who had enough sick leave built up that they could furlough without financial repercussions,” said Dr. Noordzij. “The staff who wanted to work weren’t forced onto furlough. As far as I know, everyone got what they wanted, which worked out nicely.”
There are public health experts at BU that we’ve relied on to make projections and they’ve been quite accurate. We hope they’ll be accurate again. —J. Pieter Noordzij, MD
Once things started to ramp up in late May and June, Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center began bringing staff back from furlough, though some were nervous about returning. The department let them know how seriously they took staff safety, with measures to make the clinic space safer, including fewer patients in the waiting room and limits on the number of people in the break room at one time. “Everybody got the picture that it was safe to come to our clinic and work there,” said Dr. Noordizj.