William Miller, MD
A Staffing Crisis in Healthcare
Even before COVID, the US was experiencing a shortage of healthcare workers, including nurses, pharmacists, and technicians. Rural communities have always had greater difficulty attracting healthcare professionals, especially physicians. Now, all healthcare jobs are under-staffed across the US including housekeeping, receptionists, nurse’s aides, and other support positions.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are over 290,000 unfilled healthcare positions across the country and this is expected to increase by another 35,000 by the end of this year. Further, the healthcare industry is the largest and fastest growing job sector in our economy accounting for more than 22 million jobs or 14% of all US jobs. This is being driven by our aging population as the baby boomers move into a stage in their lives when they require more health care services.
The pandemic affects this situation in several ways. One is that we have more patients needing care, especially in hospitals, and that means we need more staff to provide that care. Higher COVID admissions in turn leads to higher demand for nursing home and rehab beds for patients who cannot go directly home from the hospital. Clinics are also seeing more patients seeking care at a time when we have a shortage of primary care providers and clinic staff.
Another affect of the pandemic is loss of healthcare staff who are getting burned out and choosing to quit, either permanently or at least temporarily until the pandemic is over. The American Organization of Nursing Leadership is reporting that 9% of all hospital nursing positions are unfilled nationally and that over 1/3 of hospitals are indicating that this is reducing the volume of services they can provide. They go on to site burn out as a major factor.
Local healthcare facilities in Mendocino County from hospital to clinic to skilled nursing facility are all feeling this staffing pinch. For example, out here on the Coast, our 25-bed hospital has been capped at 19 beds due to a lack of nursing staff. Our clinic has lost key front desk staff and medical assistants. As a result, there have been extremely long wait times to get through on the phone. Our local nursing home, Sherwood Oaks, has been understaffed since the start of the pandemic and as a result has reduced the number of patients it can take from the community to 45. It is licensed for 79 beds.
Some long-term solutions include encouraging enrolment in the local nursing school and expanding its class sizes. Adventist Health (AH) has partnered with UC Davis to provide a family medicine residency program in Ukiah which is now in its 3rd year and is expected to turn out 6 new family practice doctors per year. It is hoped that many of these physicians will choose to stay in our community.
In the short run, however, we have significant needs throughout Mendocino now. Below is a list of local nursing homes, clinics and hospitals that have job openings. If you are looking for work, consider applying. Some are entry level, meaning you don’t have to have prior experience and you will receive on the job training (indicated by an *). A website and/or phone number is provided for each so that you can get more information and learn how to apply.
AH Mendocino Coast, Ft. Bragg: EMT, nurses aide*, housekeeper*, surgery tech, radiology tech, ultrasound tech, home health aide*, home health RN, clinical lab scientists, phlebotomists*, manager/supervisors, access coordinator*, RNs (med-surg, ICU, OR), dietician, physical therapy assistant, registration clerk*, billing receptionist*, patient account representative. https://www.adventisthealth.org/mendocino-coast/about-us/current-openings/
AH Howard Memorial, Willits: manager/supervisors, OR nurses, RNs (outpt & Inpt), LVNs, nurses aides*, unit clerk*, nurse practitioner, monitor tech*, scheduler*, physical therapist, physical therapy assistant, speech therapist, radiology techs, radiology assistant*, CT techs, ultrasound tech, clinical lab scientists, lab assistant, phlebotomist*, pharmacy assistant, cooks, chef, nutrition assistants, executive assistant, hospice RN, medical social worker, patient access representatives*, and home health: LVN, RNs, physical and occupational therapists. https://careers.adventisthealth.org/
AH Ukiah Valley, Ukiah: clinical lab scientists, customer care associates*, managers/supervisors, medical assistants*, RNs (med-surg, ICU, OR, L&D and out-patient), LVNs, certified nurses aides, unit clerks*, physical therapists, speech therapist, physical therapy assistants, radiology techs, CT techs, surgical techs, histology tech, pharmacists, pharmacy tech, respiratory therapists, occupational medicine nurse practitioner, food service associate, nutrition assistant, medical staff coordinator, diabetes educator RN, medical screener*, case manager and patient access representatives*. https://careers.adventisthealth.org/
Adventist Health Mendocino Medical Offices (formerly North Coast Family Health Center), Ft. Bragg: medical assistants*, access coordinators*, medical records technicians*. https://www.adventisthealth.org/mendocino-coast/about-us/current-openings/
Anderson Valley Health Center, Boonville: RN, registered dental assistant, medical assistant*. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org - application on website www.avhc.org
Baechtel Creek Medical Clinic, Willits: medical assistant*. Contact: email@example.com, or call 707-459-6861.
Long Valley Health Center, Laytonville: RN or LVN, chiropractor, health information tech, clinical applications specialist, executive director, driver*, IT tech, licensed clinical social worker, dentist, family nurse practitioner, family practice physician. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 707-984-6131 ex. 146 or apply online at www.longvalley.org
MCHC Health Centers: Ukiah - Primary care provider, primary care counselor, pediatric nurse practitioner, nurse practitioner or physician assistant, OB/GYN physician, certified nurse midwife, dermatologist, registered dental assistant, patient services representative, phlebotomist, facilities attendant, medical assistant*, LVN, environmental services attendant, infection preventionist, perinatal services program educator, patient navigator*, referral supervisor, risk management coordinator, call center agent, clinical applications specialist, compliance & risk management program assistant. Willits – Physician, dentist, medical assistant*. Lakeport - LVN supervisor. Contact: email@example.com, or call 707-468-2201.
Mendocino Coast Clinics, Ft. Bragg: receptionists*, office float*, nurses (RN or LVN), dentist, family nurse practitioner, primary care doctor. www.mccinc.org or Facebook page.
Redwood Coast Medical Service, Gualala & Point Arena: dental hygienist, urgent care RN, urgent care LVN, behavioral health provider, RX refill nurse, physician, physician assistant, family nurse practitioner. Contact: RKaucnik@rcms-healthcare.org, or call 707-884-4853
Nursing Homes and Skilled Nursing Facilities
Mountain View Assisted Living and Memory Care, Ukiah: caregivers*, medication tech, cooks, dietary aid, housekeeper*, resident care coordinator, health services director. www.mountainviewal.com and clicking on careers or call 707-462-6212.
Northbrook Healthcare Center, Willits: dietary manager, LVN, RN certified nurse’s aides, MDS coordinator (RN or LVN), housekeeper. https://northbrooknursing.com/contact/#careers
Redwood Cove Healthcare Center, Ukiah: LVN charge nurse, certified nurse’s aide. https://redwoodcove.com/careers/
Sherwood Oaks Health Center, Ft. Bragg: director of nursing, RNs, LVNs, certified nursing assistants*, ward clerk*, door monitor*, environmental technician. Contact Will Maloney, Administrator, at 707-964-6333 or pick up a job application at the facility.
Ukiah Post-Acute Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing, Ukiah: registered dietitian, certified nurse’s aide, dishwasher*, RN, nursing assistant*, care partner*, activities director, LVN. https://ukiahpostacute.com/contact/#careers
Lastly, a major barrier to recruitment is the availability of local housing, especially in Ft. Bragg. If you have a rental unit and are looking to make it available, please, call the numbers above associated with facilities near the rental and let them know that you have a place to rent.
I encourage folks who are looking for employment to seriously think about a job in healthcare. Adequately staffing our healthcare facilities is important as we combat this pandemic. We will get through this by working together as a community.