It sounds simple – operations defines an urgent staffing
need, and our labour pools and supplemental resources teams try to fill it. But
it’s a complex process.
Dean Biesenthal is with Saskatchewan Health Authority’s
Workforce Planning and Employment Strategies unit. He along with the Labour
Pools and Supplemental Workforce teams have been
helping address needs for health care staff created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In partnership with
operations, our teams have been identifying and deploying staff to the testing
sites, the assessment and treatment centres, to our hospitals and long-term
care homes to help with staff and visitor screening, and now to the areas in
outbreak around the province,” Biesenthal explains.
How complicated is it to find and deploy these large numbers
“It’s pretty complicated,” Biesenthal admitted. “But we’ve
come up with a multi-staged approach that is working."
First, they look to fill the staffing need within facilities
or units; if that doesn’t work, then they go to the local labour pool.
Six labour pools were created around Saskatchewan to meet
the demands of the changing service delivery environment during the COVID-19
pandemic, as the pandemic makes it more likely that health care workers will be
reallocated from their usual roles and settings as services change. The labour
pools are meant to make redeployment and reassignment of health care workers
around the province more efficient and effective, moving them from areas where
services are curtailed to where more services are required.
If the need can’t be filled in the local labour pool or the
other five labour pools in Saskatchewan, they try the broadcast system, implemented
at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which will call, text and email staff.
Finally, they move to the supplemental workforce team, which means looking into
different solutions, like recalling retired workers, engaging with other health
system partners or engaging in contracts.
Everything is regimented and defined by a letter of
understanding with Saskatchewan’s health care unions regarding the SHA’s
“SHA staff have been so responsive, and so
supportive of health care needs in our province,” Biesenthal notes. “About
1,500 employees have been willing to be redeployed to new roles, worksites, and
in some cases travelling to new communities across the province to help battle
COVID-19. That willingness is what makes this all work, and we couldn’t be
more grateful for it.”