By: Josefina Romano, DPS Marketing Coordinator & Blogger
Flu season like many other viruses can be unpredictable and hard to forecast. You know when to expect it but not necessarily the severity of it. Some medical facilities may find themselves off guard and under-prepared but there are different steps that can be taken to prepare staff and patients for the arrival of the flu season.
Have a vaccination plan
Having a detailed and proactive vaccination plan can help your facility better handle increased patient demands that normally arise during the flu season. More demands for flu vaccinations also means an increase in supplies, scheduling and a higher need for constant patient communication. Use previous years as lessons on how your facility can do better and how to be more efficient in responding to patient’s demands. Some options include having extended hours or hosting mobile clinics to better accommodate patients.
Educate your patients
Conducting constant patient outreach and educational campaigns before and during flu season can make a drastic difference in the influx of sick patients you will receive. Be sure to keep your patients informed with flu prevention techniques, understanding the symptoms, and educating them in steps to take if they do contract the flu. Host informational nights, flu vaccination clinics for the community and serve as a reliable informational source for your patients. These initiatives can start as early as the summer months. Use multiple channels such as email, text, social media and even mail to stay in touch with your patients to let them know that you are prepared for the flu season and that they can come to you if they feel ill.
Special staffing considerations
The cold and flu season usually begins right before the holiday season which already creates a higher demand for staffing. Your staff may have scheduled vacation time off and could even get sick themselves. In order to properly handle the staff fluctuations that the holidays and the flu season brings, it is better to hire long term, short term and per diem staff prior to these dates. Consider using a staffing firm early in the season to identify candidates who can fill in for employees that are scheduled to be out during the holidays. This also gives your facility time to train employees fully before the busy season.
Flu season also means hospitals have a higher demand for nurses to care for patients and identify high risk people who need to be immunized. Another reason to plan ahead of time for additional hiring is the growing nursing shortage and the aging of the patient population, which is creating increased demand for more nurses. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are finding it difficult to get their needs for nurses filled. The best solution is to start hiring nurses early on in the year. The earlier you start in employing nurses, the higher the probability that you will obtain the quantity and quality you need when the flu season hits.
To request staffing services for the flu season: www.deansprofessionalservices.com