Colorado Hospital Postpones Up to 90 Surgeries Due to Fewer Doctors

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Postponed surgery to a lack of doctorThe Eastern Colorado Health Care System needs more anesthesiologists and certified registered nurse anesthetists, reflecting a nationwide shortage of doctors.

The Colorado VA hospital had to reschedule surgical treatment for about 90 non-emergency surgery patients. A spokesperson said that the medical facility has struggled with fewer workers, due to on-leave doctors and those who left to find other jobs.

Fierce competition

Some doctors likely decided to leave their jobs at the Eastern Colorado Health Care System to search for better pay. Demand remains strong for anesthesiologists in the state, which led the hospital to raise the salary for an anesthesiologist to as much as $400,000 per year. On the other hand, anesthetists could earn $173,000 per year if they accept a job at the VA hospital.

For other jobs such as a hospitalist, locum tenens staffing firms like Interim Physicians have filled some workforce gaps. This type of employment strategy has become important, especially since postponing medical procedures would be detrimental for patients.

Meeting demand

Despite staffing problems, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman said that the Colorado hospital still attends to urgent and critical care patients. Locum tenens doctors, however, may continue to be a major solution for short-staffed hospitals in the country.

According to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges, the healthcare industry would face a shortage of 40,800 to 104,900 doctors by 2030. The report expects a continued increase in demand, as the U.S. population would increase by 12% between 2015 and 2030. Patients over 65 years would increase by 55%. This age group requires three times as many services, including specialty care.

The healthcare industry should consider alternative recruitment solutions to address concerns on short-staffed hospitals. Locum tenens staffing and higher compensation serve as some ways to fill gaps, which ensure that services remain uninterrupted.