As we make a historic effort to vaccinate our population from COVID-19 and focus first on our nation’s healthcare providers, it’s critical to account for those who practice locum tenens. Recent articles have highlighted the struggles of our temporary workforce to be included in the distribution of the vaccine.
There is a misconception that locum tenens agencies are ordering the vaccine for their providers prior to assignments. Rather, client facilities should be including their contract staff in their orders and distribution plans.
“Administering the COVID-19 vaccine is a critical measure healthcare organizations can take to protect not only their full-time staff, but also those who are working side-by-side with them on a locum tenens basis, says Matt Erickson, president of NALTO. “By including locum tenens providers who are on assignment in a vaccine rollout plan, organizations can also help prevent the spread of the virus to patients and others in the community, ensuring the safest possible environment for everyone,” says Matt Erickson, Senior Vice President of LocumTenens.com and President of NALTO.
Adding to the confusion has been the lack of a uniform process for all healthcare facilities to follow in the rollout of the vaccine. This is similar to the challenges we faced in the early stages of the pandemic with respect to PPE supply and preparation needed to treat rapidly increasing cases of COVID among patients.
Responsibility for these efforts vary by state and even between local facilities in the same communities. Reports of who is defined as a first responder and how to most ethically deploy vaccination to high-risk individuals are also concerning.
Regardless, they are accountable for including their locum tenens providers in their vaccination plan. This is no different than including temporary staff in their other projections to utilize contract labor. If medical facilities are looking for additional guidance, the CDC has a more detailed guide by state on their website.
“Locum tenens providers are vital to the nation as we battle this pandemic, and we need to make sure we are taking care of them as they are taking care of the rest of us,” adds Erickson.
It’s important for healthcare organizations to protect those who ensure their continuity of care. Now more than ever, locum tenens agencies should be providing clarity to clientele on the responsibilities of both parties in working together during this pandemic.
NALTO will continue to be a leading resource for the locum tenens industry’s staffing firms, clients, and providers on this subject. We encourage you to share with us and fellow agencies your experiences in supplying staffing solutions during the vaccine distribution process.