Story by Laura Manuel
Putting patients first doesn't only happen on the frontline. South Zone's new Staffing Service Centre (SSC) team keeps a tight focus on patient needs as it schedules nearly 800 clinical staff for Lethbridge, Brooks and Bassano.
“Every unit needs the right number and type of staff," says Anne Teslak, Scheduler Team Lead. "Patient safety and quality depend on it."
The SSC works with managers of each unit to assign shifts to care providers, predominantly nurses. Schedulers need to understand the complex staffing needs and urgency of the frontline.
"Previous knowledge of AHS policies and procedures is also helpful," adds Teslak, “as is having the ability to problem-solve with managers."
Teslak has worked in several administrative roles during her career in healthcare. She’s familiar with AHS' Recruitment Management System (RMS), payroll and scheduling. Recently, she joined South Zone's first SSC, as one of 12 on her growing team.
Alexis Shigemi, a scheduler, may be new to AHS but she’s familiar with Workforce ESP (Environment for Scheduling Personnel), the software involved.
"Staffing was done differently in the past," says Shigemi. "One of the things people are learning is how to use ESP."
Previously, staff were scheduled using various methods, depending on where they worked. Many areas didn’t even use ESP.
"Some staff are still learning they can do things like update their availability online," adds Shigemi.
Transitioning AHS to a provincial system, supported by regional SSCs, is bringing consistency through comprehensive scheduling and rotation support. For many staff and managers, this way of doing scheduling is different.
“Overall, the reception from managers have been positive,” says Teslak. “The SSC can understand their status and needs quickly…. The precious time they have to care for patients should be on patients, while we take care of scheduling.”
As the SSC develops staff schedules up to 84 days in advance, schedulers see the big picture of who can best fill a shift. They also work on short-term needs, and make phone calls to find replacements to fill daily absences.
South Zone’s SSC team comprises adaptable, organized individuals with exceptional attention to detail.
“A lot of my job is about customer service,” says Shigemi, “Schedulers need to be adaptable and not panic when there are urgent needs.”
Open for about a year and based out of Chinook Regional Hospital, the South Zone SSC is gradually growing its team as it increases support for more units.