Town Hall – Staffing for Vacations


May 25th Staffing for Vacations Keith Lavin

1. How do we establish a realistic vacation coverage strategy?

2. Who sets the guidelines for the staff, occ clinic or must it go through human resources

3. What staff positions are exempt?

4. Who establishes the training for coverage?

5. What guidelines need to be in place before vacation time?

6. Are per diem workers a realistic part of the plan?


The efficient management of staffing during vacation periods can be a challenging task for many organizations, but it becomes inherently complex in the realm of healthcare services, where patient care cannot be compromised. Recently, we held an in-depth discussion on this intricate issue during our 21st NAOHP Town Hall of 2021. Our key speakers, Donnelly Gardner, Senior Director of RWJ Barnabas Health Corporate Care and Keith Lavin, NAOHP Director on the NAOHP Board for the Northeast, shared their extensive experiences and golden nuggets of wisdom.

The Imperative of Planning and Prioritizing Productivity

Both Keith and Mike highlighted the importance of planning in advance to manage staffing seamlessly during vacations. They emphasized the need for an organized approach to anticipate the clinic’s needs and to have a clear understanding of the minimum coverage required to maintain the clinical and business continuum.

Seniority often came into play in such planning, and it was deemed essential to ensure fairness while allocating vacation periods. However, it should not be the sole deciding factor. Also, it is advisable to stagger the schedule and maintain a pool of well-trained part-timers who can pitch in whenever needed.

The Role of HR and Managerial Discretion

The speakers gave an insight into the varying approaches within their organizations when it comes to setting the guidelines for staffing during vacations. While Keith’s organization leaned heavily on Human Resource policies, Mike’s operation involved more direct line managers’ discretion. A key takeaway from this conversation is that each organization, based on its size, regional operation and internal dynamics, can adopt a policy that best fits its needs.

Balancing Vacation Time with BlackOut Periods

The discussion also underscored the importance of instituting vacation blackout periods, times during the year where vacations should be limited due to peak business demands. Getting employees aware of vacation blackouts, confirmed during the onboarding process, and reminded periodically (annually, in case of Keith’s organization), can prevent misunderstandings and ensure smoother operations.

Remote Working and Flexibility during Emergencies

The conversation touched upon the value of flexibility during emergencies, with Keith’s organization allowing some positions that can perform their duties remotely to work from home.

Mike mentioned having a ‘lead person’ system within his organization. Lead positions being empowered to manage their departments during staff absences ensures that the business continues to run smoothly.

The Necessity of Adequate Training and Competency Assessment

Keith emphasized the importance of having well-trained per-diem staff and ensuring their competencies are regularly refreshed. This readiness helps in supplementing the regular workforce during vacation periods.

As Mike succinctly summed up, “Don’t make it complicated. We’re all in this together and we have customers to take care of. And if there’s times that we have to try and figure out how to make it work, we’ll do it. Other times, we have enough staff that can cover.” Staffing for vacations doesn’t have to be a challenge; with the right planning, coverage strategies, and a team-driven attitude, organizations can ensure uninterrupted operational efficiency.

Remember to join us on our next town hall on January 1st on “Loss Management or Lost Opportunity: The Medical Provider’s Role,” with Nick Blacos. Until then, take care everyone!

Loss Management Manual

Injury/Loss Management Service Line Model

The Loss Management Service is a proactive approach to injury prevention. Since safety is an essential component of this service line, client companies receive assistance with safety program development and implementation. Supervisor training for accident reporting and investigation is provided to clients on site. The development of functional job descriptions and the establishment of temporary work assignments are also components of this service line. Client companies send all injuries to specific OHS facilities for injury care. Standards are developed to ensure injury management is standardized to provide emergency care, follow-up referrals and company feedback for all injured worker medical data.

Loss Management Table of Contents

Page 3 – Injury/Loss Management Service Line Model
Page 3 – Contracts
Page 4 – Service Delivery
Page 4 – Data Management
Page 4 – Customer Service
Page 5 – Referrals
Page 5 – Care Management
Page 5 – Consulting
Page 6 – Loss Management Program Checklist for Program Components
Page 6 – Safety Program
Page 6 – Injury Management
Page 6 – Data Necessary for Analysis of Current Program
Page 7 – Implementation and Evaluation Procedures for the Loss Management Program
Page 9 – Physician Occupational Health Network Criteria
Page 10 – Facility Walkthrough for Health and Safety Hazards
Page 10 – Hazard Communication Program
Page 11 – General Housekeeping
Page 12 – Safety and Health Hazards
Page 14 – Emergency Preparedness
Page 14 – Conclusions
Page 15 – Loss Management Contract
Page 15 – Case Management
Page 15 – Early Return to Work
Page 15 – Policy Development
Page 16 – Work Products
Page 16 – Responsibilities of Company
Page 16 – Terms
Page 16 – Compensation
Page 16 – Changes


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