CDC Guidance on Addressing Staff Shortages

Lia Lawson and Lila Kelso

February 10th, 2022

As healthcare work shortages continue, it is important for health care systems to also turn to best practices from government organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assist in getting healthcare providers back to work in a safe and efficient manner. Coupled with tips from industry in our last blog post, these guidelines can help to ensure that your organization is able to continue to provide high quality care in the midst of a challenging staffing environment:

  1. Health care organizations should either implement COVID-19 vaccination requirements or encourage employees to get vaccinated where mandates do not exist.

  2. Hospitals and health systems should also work to understand what the minimum number of medical personnel required for adequate care should be. While the goal should be to operate above that number, having a “worst case scenario” in mind is important to maintaining high quality care.

  3. In situations where there are severe shortages, an emphasis should be placed on contracting out temporary workers (e.g., traveling nurses, additional medical techs, etc.) and improving working conditions (including wages) for those already employed by the healthcare system.

  4. All non-essential procedures and visits should be cancelled to shift staffing from those areas to areas with higher acuity patients and need.

  5. Work to address factors that might be preventing employees from getting to work, including improving access to transportation, housing, and childcare, which can allow for more social distancing while at home.

  6. In specifically urgent situations, the below chart can help organizations understand when employees who have faced a COVID-19 exposure can return to work.


While the rate of new infections from the Omicron strain of COVID-19 are currently declining, this new strain, and the pandemic more generally, have placed a heavy burden on health care workers. It is important that healthcare systems follow best practices issued by government organizations such as the CDC to delivery high quality care while still being responsive to the needs of employees.


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