Monday, November 9, 2020 / by Juan Grimaldo
While hiring at Valley hospitals and health care companies have slowed during the coronavirus pandemic, the pace is picking up quickly, with thousands of job openings across metro Phoenix.
Many of these are high-paying jobs, with an urgent need for qualified nurses.
"Hiring for growth is just beginning again, and we are anticipating higher than average numbers for the foreseeable future," said Anne Wegner, manager of allied health recruitment for Mayo Clinic Scottsdale. "Nursing continues to be our greatest hiring need, however support areas like environmental services, administrative operations and clinical technicians are also in demand."
Mayo Clinic has more than 500 openings in Arizona and more than 4,000 for the entire Mayo Clinic enterprise, which is slightly more than last year at this time.
In Arizona, Mayo operates a hospital campus in Phoenix and an outpatient clinic and education and research center in Scottsdale. It had paused hiring of noncritical positions early in the pandemic.
"Once we started actively recruiting again, initially there was a strong candidate pipeline, however that has slowed a bit in recent months," Wegner said.
Phoenix-based Banner Health, the state's largest health care system, has the biggest hiring needs, with 2,170 open positions.
"Currently, positions that are harder to fill are entry-level positions in the areas of environmental services, patient financial services and medical assistants," said Rebecca Armendariz, spokeswoman for Banner.
Banner has developed a predictive modeling tool that will help to determine staffing needs in the future. This tool uses data from the prior Covid-19 surge as well as historical data of visitor trends, respiratory illnesses and other more seasonal factors that might impact volume, Armendariz said.
"We are using this tool as we work closely with our contract staffing vendors to secure the help we will need for an anticipated increase in volume," she said.
Application volume for roles in environmental and food services declined during the pandemic, said Maureen Sterbach, vice president and chief human resources officer for Dignity Health in Arizona.
"We saw a number of entry-level employees resign their employment to stay home and care for their children as a result of the pandemic," she said. "At the height of the pandemic, certified nurse assistants became a hot job in the Valley as the demand for nursing support positions grew dramatically in acute care, non-acute care, skilled nursing facilities and home health."
With an increasing need for those types of positions, Sterbach said she also saw an increase in competitive base pay and sign-on bonuses being offered, which was not the case before the pandemic.
Currently, Dignity Health Arizona is only hiring replacement positions, such as nursing roles, along with positions in the laboratory, environmental services and food services teams, she said.
Recruiters, hiring managers and candidates have had to adapt to virtual recruiting, interviewing and onboarding amid the pandemic, Wegner said.
"This has become easier as we have implemented improved technologies and processes," she said.
Matilda Rojas, human resources manager for the Phoenix operations of Central Admixture Pharmacy, which is part of Pennsylvania-based B. Braun Medical Inc., said she had to cancel an in-person job fair scheduled at the beginning of the pandemic for the company's 250,000-square-foot compounding pharmacy and warehouse at 2200 S. 43rd Ave.
Now she's moving forward with an in-person job fair on Nov. 5 for 25 positions ranging from warehouse clerks to technicians and quality coordinators. Hourly pay will range from the mid teens to mid $20s.
While the job fair will be held in person, it will follow CDC guidelines.
"We're not going to be interviewing on the spot, but we're going to be talking to people and emphasize follow-up," Rojas said. "We don't want to lose anyone."
Since opening its Phoenix warehouse in 2018, the company has grown to 109 employees, she said. By 2024, plans call for employing 400 people at its Phoenix facility.
Construction spurs hiring
Construction of expanded facilities also is causing the need for more employees.
Phoenix-based CND Life Sciences, which currently operates a lab in Phoenix, is planning to move to larger headquarters in Scottsdale in 2021 — evaluating up to 10,000 square feet of combined laboratory and office space, said Rick Morello, CEO of the medical technology company working on a test to identify Parkinson's disease.
Founded in 2017, the company currently employs 10 people but plans to grow to more than 100 by 2025, with at least two-thirds of the staff in the Valley. Morello said he needs lab technicians and managers, quality control and assurance professionals, image analysis specialists, research and science professionals, pathologists and information technology professionals.
"We will begin posting for many of these types of roles in 2021 as we begin to scale up operations," he said.
The company just received a $2.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue to work on its Syn-One Test to help physicians detect Parkinson's, along with several other neurological disorders. CND launched the Syn-One Test in August 2019 as the only commercially available skin-based test to help diagnose these conditions, he said.
Dallas-based Exceptional Healthcare Inc. plans to invest $150 million to build at least six hospitals in Arizona, with plans to hire upward of 600 to staff those facilities.
And another Texas company, Irving-based Caris Life Sciences is expanding its lab space in Phoenix, with plans to hire 300 by the end of the year and eventually grow to 1,500 employees here, while Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. (NYSE: THC) opened its third micro hospital in the Valley, with each of those hospitals employing about 50 people.
Banner Boswell Medical Center in Sun City, which just opened its 40,000-square-foot renovated emergency department in October, will be hiring about a dozen emergency department nurses and clinicians as the hospital approaches the peak winter season that comes with increased patient volumes, said Brian Standage, chief operating officer of Banner Boswell Medical Center.
In September, Scottdale-based HonorHealth opened a $170 million hospital in north Phoenix, creating a need for 50 employees, including positions in environmental services, nutrition, technicians, nurses and clinicians.
Jim Graham, vice president of talent acquisition for HonorHealth, said the nonprofit health care system has somewhere between 450 and 600 positions open, including nursing and support services, such as housekeeping, food services and information technology jobs.
Partnerships spur growth
HonorHealth is in talks with FastMed Urgent Care to form a joint venture to operate all 30 of FastMed's Arizona-based clinics in the Phoenix and Tucson areas.
Danielle Barrera, COO for FastMed, said she's in the process of adding 50 positions in the Phoenix area, with a few openings in Tucson.
"Driving our talent acquisition is our growth strategy," she said. "Part of the reason we want to ensure we have proper talent is because we are adding additional services."
Over the past few months, FastMed has been beefing up telemedicine and Covid-19 testing services.
Valor Global, which provides call center solutions to customers around the world, recently acquired Scottsdale-based DRS Services USA, which is creating the need for 500 new health care jobs in metro Phoenix over the next 12 months.
Valor Global's acquisition of DRS Services comes at a time when the pandemic has accelerated the global market for outsourcing customer care solutions, said CEO Simer Mayo.
Positions needed will include customer care representatives for hospital, medical, dental and other health facilities that are responsible for assisting with patient customer service, including scheduling, problem resolution and patient demographic updates.
Home care needs
When the pandemic hit Arizona, the demand for home health services spiked, creating a need for more employees, said Sara Wilson, president and CEO of Home Assist Health.
While she didn't furlough any of her workers, she was able to pick up employees furloughed from other organizations.
Then in June and July, when the first Covid-19 wave hit, many workers quit, opting for unemployment insurance and CARES Act funds, she said.
Wilson is looking to fill 100 positions by the end of the year, where employees provide non-medical assistance with activities of daily living in patients' homes.
"It's even more important amid the pandemic because we're seeing a migration away from facility-based care to go home," she said.