Cypress Health Region facing serious staff shortages

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
Cypress Health Region facing serious staff shortages

The Cypress Health Region is struggling to find employees for a variety of vacant positions and is working on new recruitment strategies.

Cypress Health CEO Beth Vachon highlighted the staffing challenges facing the health region at the Cypress Regional Health Authority meeting April 8.
“We continue to struggle to find not only trained, skilled health-care providers but even our entry level positions we have a hard time filling now,” she said.
She added the shortages are not a complete shock. The health region has been dealing with the issue for years, but it has become a real concern now. A key challenge is that there is not a large pool of human resources available in many of the smaller rural communities.

“So we’re often having to bring people in from other places,” she said. “That’s fine when it’s professionals and they are doing the move as part of their career plan, gaining some experience or after many years of experience looking for a different kind of a practice, but we’re really struggling with home-care aids, continuing-care aids, cooks, housekeepers, maintenance staff. So even some of those positions where we bring people in and do all their training with them, we’re struggling there.”
According to Vachon, a number of factors are contributing to the staff shortages. Health care staff are reaching retirement age, unemployment rates are low, people have many other job opportunities and health-care work can sometimes be challenging, including the need to work shifts.

“So I’m not sure what the solution is and how we actually encourage people to stay in smaller rural communities and work and live there and contribute to their community from that perspective, but we’re looking at all kinds of strategies to figure out how we get people to stay in rural Saskatchewan and provide care and services,” she said.
The health region’s recruitment and retention committee is considering different options to address staffing needs. Cypress Health already has a training partnership with the Great Plains College and one option will be to look at ways to expand the co-operation with training institutions. The use of social media as a recruitment tool will also be considered.

Some recruiting efforts have already been successful. The health region recently recruited nine nurses from Nova Scotia to work at the Cypress Regional Hospital in Swift Current.
In addition to recruiting new employees there is also the need to consider retention measures to assist people to settle in their new communities.

“This is not a one-answer issue,” Vachon said. “I think there are lots of things that we need to look at. The committee met and started to really talk about what some of those things are and by the beginning of May they intend to have a plan in place of how we’re going to move forward.”

Cypress Health Region supports first responder training
The Cypress Health Region is providing financial support for the training of first responders in communities.
The health region has concluded agreements with 20 communities and training has already taken place in Morse, Eastend and Fox Valley.

“First responders are just an integral part of our EMS services and we’re really pleased that the communities have taken us up on that offer and that they’re working with us to have good first responder programs,” Vachon said.

New handi-van for Gull Lake

Vachon informed the meeting the community of Gull Lake has raised $85,000 to purchase a new handi-van.   An event took place in the town March 31 to celebrate the arrival of the new vehicle.

“It’s a real benefit to our long-term care facility because they often will provide transportation to different kinds of activities and appointments,” she said. “So good for that community that they’ve done that. … In small communities that often really goes a long way to helping  people maintain a good quality of life.”

New Maple Creek health facility to open soon
Final work on the completion of the new  Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility in Maple Creek is going well and the move into the new facility is expected to take place during the first week of June.

“We’re putting a call out now to our staff who can come out and help with some of the work that needs to be done,” Vachon said. “We need to keep that as a tight timeline and not drag it on. It gets too difficult trying to operate in different ways and different places and we’ve lived with that now for the past number of months out there and the sooner we can get everybody under one roof that’s our goal.”

The move into the long-term care portion of the facility will take place over a number of days.
“We will move one long-term care house at a time,” she said. “W’’ll get a house settled, move the next house, over a three-day period. So by the 10th of June I think we’ll be well operating that building, everything will be up and running by then.”
The grand opening of the new facility will take place June 25 at 11 a.m. The demolition of the former Maple Creek Hospital building, which served the community for more than 50 years, has already started and is scheduled for completion by the end of April.

via SW Sask News – Prairie Post – Prairie Post

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