By Anna Phillips | May 6, 2020 at 11:12 PM EDT – Updated May 6 at 11:12 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A new effort by the state Department of Health and Human Services and East Carolina University aims to match willing and able healthcare professionals available for work with facilities who need them.
NC DHHS wrote in a press release, Due to COVID-19, many health care facilities in North Carolina, particularly long-term care facilities, are seeking to urgently hire staff for temporary, part-time or full-time roles. There is an urgent need for Registered Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants, among other roles to supplement current workers and in some cases fill in for workers affected by COVID-19.
A website is dedicated to taking the information of potential employees available for full-time, part-time and/or temporary work. Staff with ECU’s College of Nursing take the information and match workers with facilities in need, which are then in turn able to hire directly.
Deputy Secretary of Health Services, Ben Money, says over 1,500 people have already signed up.
At Premier Living and Rehab in Columbus County, Nursing Administrator Gennie Parnell is clear that they are fully staffed right now, but they anticipate the need for more help as they re-open for new admissions.
As hospitals resume non-essential surgeries, the need for rehab facilities to accept patients will also rise.
The facility has posted job openings for the first time since the COVID crisis began and is connected with ECU to find willing employees.
They’ve had 17 positive cases of COVID-19 among residents and five cases among staff. Four residents with underlying conditions passed away.
Parnell says they want to be sure their hard-working staff get the breaks they deserve.
“It’s the time of year when people want to be off, take a vacation and they need a break because even though they love this job and they’re willing to give it everything they’ve got, it’s very taxing and they need a break,” she said.
“I also want people to know that nursing home work is very rewarding. It’s so much more than passing pills. Nurses get to use all of their clinical training, education and critical thinking skills on a daily basis. Nursing homes don’t always get the recognition they deserve,” Parnell said. “There are hundreds of wonderful things that happen each and every day. If you could spend just one day watching all of the different facets of what it takes to provide care to just one resident, then multiply that times 100 residents, you’d be blown away! They’re amazing!”
Ben Money says the information also forms a sort of reserve force of healthcare workers who are available and willing to go and work if there are hotspots or outbreaks that sicken the facility’s primary staff as has happened in other countries.
“We did not want to see ourselves in North Carolina in that predicament. So, we set about looking at increasing our supplies and methods of distribution for personal protective equipment, making sure there was adequate ventilator capacity and then staffing,” he said.
For the time being, Money credits North Carolinians with heeding social distancing guidelines and staying home to help flatten the curve.
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