Area health officials concerned about nursing shortage

Local News

GREENE COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Recruiting and retaining nurses has been a challenge for Greene County Community Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital since before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Brenda Reetz, CEO at Greene County Community Hospital, said those in the profession knew there would be a shortage as more tenured nurses began to retire.

“There’s not enough nurses making it through nursing school or even entering the field of nursing,” she said. “For years, there’s been a predicted nursing shortage that was going to come. I think COVID-19 has made that nursing shortage come sooner than what was initially predicted.”

At this point neither hospital has reached diversion status, which is when they have to send patients to other hospitals to receive care. Rachel Spalding, Chief Nursing Officer at Good Samaritan, said it is something they hope to avoid.

“We have to evaluate every admission depending upon our physical capacity looking at many factors,” she explained. “Sometimes it comes down to what care do they require and making sure we get them where they need to go for the care that’s required and sometimes that means we do have to send them to other hospitals.”

Both Reetz and Spalding said most of their nurses have been employed at their respective facilities for decades. Spalding said they’re doing what they can to retain and recruit new hires to help support current staff.

“We’ve looked at international nurses,” she said. “That’s another thing that we’ve delved into to help support our staff and provide staffing coverage. We’ve been working on onboarding international nurses. They take the same licensing exams that our nurses do in the U.S. They’re very competent. We’ve also looked at team based approached models. So how do we introduce other licensed staff into the workplace to be able to support our staff.”

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