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Area hospital working to keep, attract employees

White River Medical Center got creative with a way to keep and attract more employees.
White River Medical Center got creative with a way to keep and attract more employees.(Source: KAIT-TV)
Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 9:23 AM CDT
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(Editor’s note: This story was originally published April 15, 2021 at 5:35 PM CDT - Updated April 15 at 8:14 PM on kait8.com)

BATESVILLE, Ark. (Great Health Divide) - Help wanted!

Rural hospitals in Region 8 have a number of jobs they need to fill and their biggest challenge is just keeping up with demand.

However, one local hospital got creative and met the need.

Over the past year, the demand for health care workers increased across the country and that was no different in rural parts of Northeast Arkansas.

The pandemic brought staffing challenges for White River Medical Center.

The human resources manager for the Center, Hope Caraway, says they are doing better now, but they have more positions to fill.

“We still need nurses, we have some openings. In addition to nurses, we need respiratory therapists, we need surgical techs,” says Caraway.

While the fear of the unknown played a factor in some people leaving, travel health agencies also played a role.

“We also lost several employees to travel agencies and as anyone in the health care industry is aware, those type of agencies pay more,” Caraway added.

The bigger challenge that continues today is keeping up with the competition in the bigger cities near Batesville.

“The first big challenge is while we are rural and in this area, we still have to compete with Little Rock, we still have to compete with Conway, because it is just an hour away to some of those health care facilities,” she says.

Caraway said they had to get creative to keep their employees and attract new people, so they started a new travel program.

“We decided that we would take a proactive approach and we developed an internal program here that was very helpful, very beneficial,” says Caraway.

They also use benefit incentives and scholarship programs to try to keep and bring in qualified staff.

Great Health Divide is an initiative addressing health disparities in the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia funded in part by the Google News Initiative.

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