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July 16, 2013

How hospitals are boosting staff morale

Daily Briefing

Modern Healthcare this week spotlighted steps that hospitals are taking to improve staff morale and counter job dissatisfaction as frustration levels among caregivers rise.

Maintaining a happy and healthy workforce has become a priority for hospitals amid the transition to a more stressful, cost-conscious health care environment. Additionally, there is a growing awareness of the need to provide individualized support to overworked staff members.

In response, hospitals across the country have begun requesting more staff input to ensure that their needs are met, Modern Healthcare reports. They also are experimenting with new tools to measure employee satisfaction and new staff-to-patient ratios. Others have created incentive-driven wellness programs; about 86% of hospitals currently have workplace wellness programs, according to the American Hospital Association.

To boost staff morale at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago, administrators paid $700,000 to implement the BlueBin System, which uses computer software to improve tracking of supply levels. Hospital officials say the system has saved 18,000 staff hours annually, improved organization, and boosted nurses' morale.

"We've taken the burden off the nurses," Mercy COO Richard Cerceo told Modern Healthcare, adding that the system "was designed around their needs."

Hospitals need to do more

However, recent surveys underscore the need for more effective morale-boosting measures. Although 90% of nurses say they are satisfied with their career choice, about 35% say they would like to leave their current position, up from 33% in 2012, according to new research from AMN Healthcare. Moreover, about half of nurses say they are concerned that their position is affecting their health.

Zenel Cortez of the California Nurses Association identifies inadequate nurse-to-patient ratios as a major reason why staffers feel overworked. "[Nurses] feel like they can't do their jobs given what's going on," she says (Selvam, Modern Healthcare, 7/13 [subscription required]).

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