MASON CITY, Iowa -The national labor shortage is continuing to be a roadblock in America's pandemic recovery. According to the National Association of Business Economics' recent survey, nearly half of U.S. companies say they are short on skilled workers. The healthcare industry is feeling the blow. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare added 37,000 jobs in October, but employment in the industry is down by 460,000 since Feb. 2020.
MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center is one of the hundreds of hospitals across the nation feeling the impact. "We're really trying to help in any way to try to bring in more candidates, more new hires for those areas," says talent acquisition partner Megan Quam. She estimated the hospital system is running anywhere from 350-400 openings at any given time currently. The hospital is currently not able to operate at full bed capacity.
Nursing is being hit hard, but no hospital area is safe. Everything from housekeeping, to dietary services, to the labs are affected. "We're having to have our staff float to other areas to staff those areas and sometimes that's still not enough. So it's just a lot trying to figure out which area can help this day, and then figuring out what we can do to try to get more people in the door to help with that," explains Quam.
Staffing issues led MercyOne North Iowa to temporarily halt accepting new patients at the inpatient hospice unit in late October. "Our COVID numbers got a little bit better, but our discharges slowed down because I think nursing homes are struggling with staffing as well, so we had a lot of nursing homes that weren't accepting transfers, which increased our census here at the hospitals," explains President and CEO Rod Schlader.
MercyOne North Iowa tells KIMT the high number of open positions is a combination of multiple factors, such as the hospitals adding new positions to meet increased patient need, and filling positions left empty by workers who terminated.
"We're trying to staff more because our patient inflow has been higher and so we need more staff in regards to that. we've opened up some additional areas that then require more staffing for those areas as well," explains Quam. "And then I think just the workforce in general has changed slightly."
"After the first surge of COVID, we had quite a few people retire, you know they're at retirement age, and it certainly accelerated their decision to retire," Schlader says.
MercyOne North Iowa recently started open interviews on Tuesdays from 4:00-5:30 p.m. with the hope that convenience, comfortability, and incentives will draw applicants in. The hospital system increased pay to $15 and there are signing incentives for most nursing positions. Click here to view jobs at MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center.