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Tired of struggling to find registration coverage for those late-night and weekend shifts? Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, CO, has a solution that might work for you. Registration is one of several departments — coding and the laboratory are two others — that make use of a hospital policy that allows employees to work "seven on, seven off" shifts, explains Cindy Vorhees, director of patient financial services.
For the past few months, four of her 13 employees have worked seven 10-hour days, and then had seven days off, Vorhees says, and the results are "so far, so good." Two of the employees work the 2 p.m. to midnight shift in the emergency department (ED), and the other two work midnight to 10 a.m., she adds. A full-time employee who splits her time between the ED and the main registration area works in the ED when neither of the other employees is there, so that coverage is continuous, Vorhees notes.
Having the "seven on, seven off" employees has eliminated an ongoing problem finding weekend staffing, she points out. The schedule leaves a staffing hole between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekends, Vorhees says. But since there has traditionally been an extra ED registrar on weekends to help with the increased volume, she notes, the new arrangement just means that instead of double coverage during the midday hours, there is one registrar on duty. From about 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends, there are two ED registrars, Vorhees adds.
"You don’t have to worry about vacation and holidays [for those on the new shift]," she notes. "If Christmas is in your week, you work it." The people on this shift, O’Toole adds, tend to "either work another job or have seven days to play. This shift [typically] is not for people who are set on weekends off or who have a family," she says, although one woman uses the shift to avoid putting her children in day care. "She works 2 p.m. to midnight, and her husband is there in the afternoon."
Because they have no vacation or holiday benefits, she says, employees on this shift work 70 hours a pay period, but are paid for 78. They do accrue sick leave, but very slowly, O’Toole adds.
[Editor’s note: Cindy Vorhees, director of patient financial services, can be reached at Valley View Hospital, P.O. Box 1970, Glenwood Springs, CO 81602. Telephone: (970) 945-3456.]