The last year confirmed something for David Savitsky. "When one door closes, another opens," said the CEO of ATC Healthcare Services, a medical staffing agency based in Lake Success.
ATC’s roughly 10,000 employees fill in the gap for medical professionals around the nation. Providing nursing services to schools and personnel to support elective surgeries were key pieces of ATC’s business that were significantly impacted by the pandemic as schools closed and elective surgeries were put on hold.
Savitsky runs the company with his brother, Steve, who is its president. "We knew COVID testing would be needed. We pivoted to testing," said Savitsky of the move they made in March 2020.
They set up a separate division to focus on testing and looked for opportunities. They found them among essential businesses’ employees, factories, universities trying to continue on-campus sessions, and others. ATC not only provided staffing for those administering tests, but it began offering its own testing services. The company has administered more than 100,000 tests, Savitsky said.
ATC's clients included a production set for the TV show "Leverage 2.0" in New Orleans, where employees tested the crew and monitored them on the set. Then ATC went a step further and established a lab in New Orleans. In the early days of COVID, it sometimes took 10 days to get test results, but ATC’s lab offered faster results.
"We became testing experts," said Savitsky, who shares how that business shift, and others, fueled the company’s growth this past year.
How was ATC able to move quickly in a new direction?
We put money, time, and did a fair amount of education to ramp up for the shift. We had a lot to learn about labs and the tests. We did training and spent money on recruitment — especially for nurse practitioners and RNs. But we wanted our employees to feel comfortable on the front lines. We made it clear to them that their health and safety was a priority. If they were assigned to a facility and the PPE wasn’t sufficient, we would relieve them.
How did you deploy staff members who had supported elective surgeries?
Some went to work in hospitals that were short staffed because of the increased demands from COVID, and others went to nursing homes and in people’s homes.
What kind of impact did the changes have on the bottom line?
With the redeployment of staff and testing, our business is up 25% over this time last year. We grew our franchise network by 13 units across nine new markets.
You seized the opportunity to move into testing — what’s next?
We still do testing, but we are also now doing support for COVID vaccinations. We are providing personnel to places that have contracts to do vaccinations, and we will begin running our own vaccination program in Manhattan later this month. We hope to do 1,000 vaccines a day. After the New York City program, we plan to start others around the country. Vaccinations are likely to be a way of life for some time to come. There is tremendous opportunity.
What did the pandemic teach you?
You have to be thinking about how to turn your business in another direction while still maintaining your core. Once you have ideas about what to do differently, think through the issues and then act. We saw a need and developed a program. Acknowledge risks, but make a decision, otherwise nothing happens. You may not be 100% ready to go, but if you’re 80 to 90%, go for it, and learn along the way. That’s what we did, even while working remotely. The pandemic also brought home just how loyal health care workers are. I’ve heard a lot of COVID stories. Our employees are heroes.
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