Meet Sylvia Decker and Rachel Chisholm, CHRP

HR and Operations Manager and HR and Executive Associate at The Centre for Family Medicine

“We hired 110 people in two weeks to staff our COVID-19 vaccination clinics. That would have been impossible without BambooHR. I'm so thankful we became a customer when we did.”

— Sylvia Decker

The Results

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Ontario, The Centre for Family Medicine’s (CFFM) small HR team of two helped CFFM answer the call to protect their community.

Within a two-week window, HR manager Sylvia Decker and executive associate Rachel Chisholm achieved the unprecedented: recruiting, interviewing, processing, and onboarding 110 professionals to staff two emergency vaccination clinics, all while working in a brand-new HR software system.

Hired 110 People in Two Weeks: “We were given a week’s there was a lot to get in place very quickly,” recalls Sylvia. “It was a massive endeavor, and with the system we had [before BambooHR], there was just no way we would have been able to get those people up and running as quickly as we did…We had BambooHR open every day, all eight hours.”

400 Hours and $10,000 Saved: In addition to saving time on recruiting and hiring tasks, BambooHR has helped Sylvia and Rachel save a total of 400 additional hours they would have spent on managing time tracking, payroll, time off, and people data tasks, equating to 10,000 dollars saved annually.

A Good Night’s Sleep: “I think the amount of stress it has priceless. We can log off at the end of the day and get a good night's sleep,” sighs Rachel. “And it’s easier to just stay organized. You never feel like something has dropped off your plate or slid off your desk that you won't remember until six months later. It’s always right there [in BambooHR]. It’s fantastic.”

The Challenge

When Rachel and Sylvia chose and implemented BambooHR for its Time Tracking feature in January 2021, they had no idea how important the Applicant Tracking System was going to be as well. Having this feature made all the difference in helping them rise to meet the staffing challenges caused by a global pandemic and violence overseas.

Staffing Emergency Clinics Within a Tight Deadline: Rachel participated in the purchase and implementation of BambooHR only two months prior to the news that CFFM would be operating two COVID-19 vaccination clinics. Once the news broke, she and Sylvia were faced with the herculean feat of recruiting, interviewing, processing, and onboarding over a hundred professionals to staff the vaccination clinics in just two weeks.

Dealing with Employee Burnout: Sylvia and Rachel processed hundreds of applications through BambooHR as community members applied in droves to contribute to the pandemic response, but the inevitable toll of burnout meant that hiring never stopped. “The clinics were open from noon until eight every day and then from eight to eight all weekend,” says Sylvia. “As people had to drop out because they couldn't do it anymore, we had to keep hiring to fill those spots.”

Opening an Emergency Outreach Clinic for Refugees: “We adapt to the needs of our community,” asserts Sylvia on opening CFFM’s refugee outreach clinic to care for those fleeing the violence in Afghanistan. She and Rachel are tasked with staffing the new clinic with at least five physicians and more nurse practitioners. “Right now, we’re expecting about six hundred people within a very short time frame, and we don’t have enough medical staff to handle that influx.”

The Solution

The emergency vaccination clinics Sylvia and Rachel staffed went into full operation in March 2021 and by August, the team they’d created had successfully administered 104,000 vaccinations. On August 13, they were able to close down the sites. However, they’ve hardly had a moment to pause.

Regarding the challenges that remain on the horizon, Sylvia laughs, “I don’t know if we’re free yet.” But she credits her executive director, who championed the purchase of BambooHR to leadership, with freeing them from an HR process that would have failed them when efficient, strategic, and collaborative HR mattered most for the health of their community.

From Offer Letter to Onboarding Without Delay: “Having staff start their onboarding process virtually through BambooHR has been fantastic. That's been a great asset to have that we didn't know we needed until we got it. And being able to set them up, but not make them active yet, so we can have everything in there that we need. And then just pushing a button and saying, ‘OK, now you're live, go for it.’” — Rachel

Faster Onboarding with Email Templates: “When you're hiring one hundred people quickly, you don't want to have to type up [instructions] every time or copy and paste. So we made a template with the instructions: ‘Thanks for signing the contract, now here's how you get into our system and what you need to do next.’ So that was great to just be able to click, click, click, and be onto the next one.” — Rachel

Streamlined Training With Effective Onboarding: “We have a lot of training in healthcare. It can take anyone between four to 10 hours to get it done. But luckily, everything then gets loaded into BambooHR and it's there [so we can track who has taken which trainings]. We're not having to chase people around for things. We’ve been able to set up the vaccine clinic and support our community and make sure everyone's trained and ready and excited to come on site.” — Rachel

About The Centre for Family Medicine

The Centre for Family Medicine is a Family Health Team serving 35,000 patients in the Kitchener, Wellesley, and Waterloo communities of Ontario, Canada. A community-focused, inter-disciplinary agency, CFFM is staffed by family physicians, health professionals and NPs, and support staff dedicated to providing leadership and excellence in comprehensive patient-centred care.




Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Number of Employees



Application Tracking System, Onboarding, Mobile

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