J Gen Intern Med. 2021 May 28. doi: 10.1007/s11606-021-06697-6. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Medical centers across the country have had to rapidly adapt clinician staffing strategies to accommodate large influxes of patients with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
OBJECTIVE: We sought to understand the adaptations and staffing strategies that US academic medical centers employed in the inpatient setting early in the spread of COVID-19, and to assess whether those changes were sustained during the first phase of the pandemic.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey assessing organization-level, team-level, and clinician-level inpatient workforce adaptations.
PARTICIPANTS: Hospital medicine leadership at 27 academic medical centers in the USA.
KEY RESULTS: Twenty-seven of 36 centers responded to the survey (75%). Widespread practices included frequent staffing reassessment, organization-level changes such as geographic cohorting and redeployment of non-hospitalists, and exempting high-risk healthcare workers from direct care of patients with COVID-19. Several practices were implemented but discontinued, such as reduction of non-essential services, indicating that they were less sustainable for large centers.
CONCLUSION: These findings provide guidance for inpatient leaders seeking to identify sustainable practices for COVID-19 inpatient workforce planning.