Over 150 Total Lots Up For Auction at One Location - CA 05/31

Staying nimble to manage pandemic staffing pressure

by John W. Mitchell, Senior Correspondent | April 06, 2022
Business Affairs
From the April 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine


The housing shortage was worsened by the East Troublesome Fire in October of 2020 that destroyed 350 homes. Consequently, according to Cleckler, builders are three to five years out constructing new homes.

Despite these challenges, Middle Park Health is better off than many rural health providers. The same markets driving home sales also provide a payer mix (ratio of private/commercial insurance to Medicare/Medicaid) that would be the envy of any health system. The system generates about 70% of its revenue from an extensive outpatient services network. This, along with federal CARES relief funding approved by Congress, has helped Middle Park Health better weather the tremendous pandemic financial pressure on rural hospitals.

Jason Cleckler
On the inpatient side, the system currently splits its 25 critical access beds between two campuses, one of only less than a half dozen critical access hospitals to do so in the U.S., Cleckler estimates.

“We're going to be adding a third inpatient site, splitting our critical access beds three ways to serve our geographically large service area better," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we weren't the only critical access hospital in the country taking such a strategy."

The long-term impact of the Covid pandemic, Cleckler said, is that he thinks the days of nurses and other staff spending five to ten years — much less an entire career — with a single employer is changing. The norm seems to be evolving into two to three years. Millennial staff, he has observed, want the flexibility to take more time off and travel to see the country.

Cleckler rose through the nursing ranks to become a hospital CEO, so he can relate to hands-on caregivers. To better meet the needs of his changing workforce, he said he has recently formed an employee advisory committee of front-line staff. He wants them to give him input on how Middle Park Health can be a better employer.

“Employees want more control of their schedule and benefits,” said Cleckler. “When you’re a nurse, it's not always about money; it's often about being appreciated."

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