County Hospitals taking action to combat staffing shortages

Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 7:02 PM EST
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AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine (WAGM) - Most beds are full at the four local hospitals. This is due to several reasons, like multiple illnesses circling around the County and staffing shortages. The hospitals are working hard to fix the staffing shortage.

Shawn Anderson, the CEO Houlton Regional Hospital says, “Some of us were actually just sitting around a table at the Maine Hospital Association yesterday at a board meeting. And the Hospital Association is working with us. There’s a very aggressive workforce committee that’s working on a variety of scenarios to help us, the hospitals, themselves. I know at Houlton we’re trying everything that we’ve got in our arsenal to recruit. It’s a challenge. The supply of health care workers isn’t what it used to be. So that is the real challenge for us. And so we’re working on a variety of fronts to try to increase the number of people that are going into health care fields which helps the scenario maybe a couple of years out, two to four years out. But it doesn’t really offer an immediate solution to the challenges that we’re facing right now.”

Greg LaFrancois, the CEO for Northern Light AR Gould Hospital says, “So for our nursing home, it’s primarily CNAs and we can train CNAs. We run a program, and if folks enroll in that program, we sign them up as an employee. So they have benefits, they have pay all the way through their education. And when their education’s over, they have a job. So I believe we’ve removed every barrier except for childcare, and I do believe, personally that childcare is one of the key contributors to our lack of workforce.”

Kris Doody, the CEO for Cary Medical Center adds, “And at Cary, we’re all doing the same thing. I happened to be sitting around that same table that Shawn was referring to earlier. And every hospital in the state tells the same story that, you know, attempting to fill these vacancies has been a challenge. And it’s not only clinical positions. You know, when people think of hospitals, they think of nurses and doctors and lab techs and x-ray techs and it’s non-clinical positions too. Also, it’s our support staff. It’s folks who keep our facilities sparkling every day or cook for our patients, it’s all positions. And it’s a challenge, but we’re going down many different roads. Looking at short-term solutions as well as long-term solutions.”