Staffing for Snowbirds: Adapting to Seasonal Care Demands


You would be hard pressed to find anyone who claims to enjoy sub-zero temperatures, treacherous ice on roads and sidewalks, and mountains of snow covering everything. The harsh winter is hard on all of us, but particularly on elderly Americans. As a result, many head south during the coldest months to the warmer climates of states like Arizona and Florida. Being elderly, many of these snowbirds are also dealing with chronic medical conditions, which means that for 4-6 months out of the year the patient population of these Southern states balloons. The extra burden placed on providers can be significant and create urgent short-term staffing needs. Here are a few tips to help you adapt to these seasonal care demands with agility and fiscal responsibility:

Create Appealing Incentives for Seasonal Staff

Short-term, contract, or temporary employment can be hard to sell, particularly for professionals with impressive credentials. You can overcome the stigma of this employment option by ensuring that the professionals you hire are compensated fairly, work reasonable schedules, and have incentives built into their employment agreement. Many providers now tie compensation to performance, which ensures a consistent quality experience for patients while motivating doctors, nurses, and coders to remain engaged.

Anticipate Seasonal Spikes

The wintertime is busier generally, but within that season there is an ebb and flow to ER admissions. Typically there is a spike directly following holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas because people eat too much, travel long distances, experience stress, and try to avoid the hospital when around family. Providers that can anticipate these spikes and make staffing provisions in advance are better equipped to serve the needs of both patients and hospital administrators.

Recruit Snowbirds

The pool of qualified candidates available to you may be too small to meet your seasonal staffing demands. As a solution, consider recruiting the snowbirds themselves. There are many healthcare professionals who are retired or semi-retired and may be enticed by the idea of a temporary contract. You might find others who live in cold-weather states and would love to spend a few months in Florida. You can leverage your warm weather to make your employment offer more appealing.

Rely on Technology

Overwhelming seasonal care demands can be partly blamed on lack of staff, but the absence of technology plays a big role as well. The overall care process is much more efficient when providers don’t duplicate services or pursue ineffective treatment options. The only way to eliminate these redundancies is to rely on electronic medical records and flexible communication options. Providers can get by with less staff throughout the year simply by making HIM technology a bigger part of the process.

The wintertime is here, and you may already be seeing snowbirds crowding your waiting rooms. If your staff is ill-equipped to meet the higher demand, connect with qualified professionals faster by working though a specialized staffing partner. Find out how MedPartners can help you develop the ideal workforce for this season and all seasons.