Geisinger Health System, a regional healthcare provider based in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, serves 3 million patients at 12 hospitals and 268 clinic sites.
“Between the visibility, mobile flexibility, and workforce management integration that EZCall has to offer, our employees, their redeployment managers, and their primary managers had a source of truth about where employees were and at what time. That was important as we were trying to figure out how to redeploy staff at this volume.”Brittany Drumm
As COVID-19 cases surged across the U.S. in mid-March 2020, Geisinger Health System designed a plan to care for potential patients. Within 48 hours, Geisinger set up testing sites and eight temporary pandemic tents to assess and treat people with lower-acuity COVID-19 symptoms. Those with acute symptoms were sent immediately to the emergency department. With many of its urgent care clinics and surgical units closed, Geisinger redeployed nurses, physician assistants, and other support staff to work at screening tables, inpatient units, seven testing sites, and the pandemic tents.
When the number of staff members assigned to the tents grew from 50 to 550 over four weeks, Geisinger administrators realized that using spreadsheets to schedule the unique tent requirements with the right staff with the right skills at the right locations over multiple shifts wasn’t tenable.
Geisinger uses UKG EZCall®, a provider- and staff-scheduling solution designed specifically for healthcare settings, in 60 of its departments across the system, which has 28,000 employees at all sites. The solution integrates with UKG® Workforce Central® to capture time and attendance information and provide a single source of truth for the organization’s workforce information. To better optimize scheduling at the coronavirus testing sites and pandemic tents, Geisinger’s Workforce Management and Achieving Excellence Teams recommended expanding use of UKG EZCall to these areas.
UKG EZCall consultants quickly had the solution operational, first at the treatment tents and a few weeks later at the testing sites. The teams used solution training materials to educate staff and administrators. Some of the redeployed staff, including PACU and urgent care clinic employees, already had been using UKG EZCall. New users quickly appreciated its ease of use, flexibility, and stability.
“The way you manage staff in UKG EZCall lends itself to pandemic work,” said Brittany Drumm, Geisinger Administrative Fellow, noting the solution’s scalability and nimbleness as the pandemic charged toward them. “We could identify staff by what roles they were eligible for and how frequently they could be scheduled.”
Redeployed staff who worked in the pandemic tents were assigned appropriately by their skills, with UKG EZCall helping Geisinger optimize staffing for many weeks.
“The integration of the pandemic tent staff schedules in UKG EZCall with Workforce Central was a key piece so we didn’t need to worry about an employee’s time being coded correctly to the right cost center,” added Krista Kull, Geisinger Workforce Management Optimization Consultant. “That had a huge impact.”
This integration also was key in streamlining reporting about where staff members worked and what role each employee worked in at specific sites during the pandemic.
Using the UKG EZCall mobile app, Geisinger employees working at testing sites and pandemic tents could easily see their schedules and at which sites they were scheduled to work. Their deployment managers and primary managers also could see in the solution where their employees were working and when, helpful information as schedulers determined how to redeploy staff at a high volume.
“The benefit we expected with UKG EZCall was the visibility, and the benefit we didn’t expect was the sense of control employees had,” explained Drumm. “They could check their schedules and switch shifts with other employees via their mobile phone, giving them a sense of control in a world where everything was in upheaval.”
After the pandemic tents were on UKG EZCall, other departments saw the value of the solution and have expressed interest in using it too. “What we’ve done with the pandemic tents has snowballed and shown different departments throughout the organization that there’s a better way to schedule,” said Kull.
As the intensity of the pandemic slowed in Geisinger’s service area, most redeployed staff returned to their home units. Although they are now inactive for pandemic deployment, their information remains in the UKG EZCall database. If another surge of COVID-19 cases occurs and treatment tents are needed again, the health system can quickly redeploy 500 employees who are already trained on pandemic tent procedures.
“If we have a coronavirus surge that hits again, we have the ability to instantly stand those schedules back up [in UKG EZCall] at maximum capacity, 50% capacity, or whatever the need is at that point,” said Kull. “The solution is ready to roll. This makes people confident that there’s one less thing to worry about if another surge happens.”