COVID exasperates the issue of physician burnout. To help your providers, start with a conversation.
MaxWorth works with many hospitals and health care providers in rural communities. We’ve observed first hand the kind of stress these facilities face due to physician shortages. It’s not uncommon for physicians in these communities to be on call nearly every day of the year. As such, it comes as no surprise that many of these physicians struggle with burnout, the effects of which can be far reaching.
The COVID-19 Impact
Today, these issues are being exacerbated by COVID-19. In a recent USA Today article, Dr. Raghuveer Kura describes the situation in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, one of the country’s most medically underserved communities. For the past decade, Dr. Kura has taken call nearly every day, traveling 160 miles to cover three different facilities in two counties. Now, as facilities in the area are dealing with an increased demand for care due to the virus, there simply aren’t enough healthcare workers to keep up. Dr. Kura points out that if he were to contract the virus, there would be no one available in the area to take care of his 90 patients while he recovered.
Utah is facing a similar situation. Kevin McCulley, preparedness manager with the Utah Department of Health Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, told Desert News: “We’ve dealt with the space and the supplies, but now we’re getting to an understanding that really, one of the critical shortages and limiting factors is going to be available staffing.”
Under these circumstances, rural facilities may experience an increase in requests for call compensation, locum tenens, and other forms of relief. These requests may be hard for hospitals to meet since they’re under increased financial strain due in part to the reduced number of elective procedures being performed. Still, starting the conversation, whether or not additional compensation is currently feasible, will help alleviate agitation and assure physicians that their voices are being heard and their services are appreciated.
MaxWorth’s Physicians’ Call Committee can facilitate these discussions and align your administration and medical staff behind a common goal of finding creative solutions to complex problems. Most importantly, the committee invites physician participation.This can have an immediate impact on hospital culture by improving trust, alignment, and transparency. And in our experience, physician input also results in more successful and widely supported solutions.
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