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Health Care Leaders Confronting Unprecedented Workforce 'Crisis'

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Nearly 20% of all job vacancies in Minnesota are in health care. From hospitals to long-term care, 40,000 positions are open right now.

"Our health care workforce right now faces a crisis. Nothing short of that," said Steve Grove, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

A candid conversation was held Thursday among a panel of health care professionals fighting every day to find new workers. Or, in some cases, beg them back.

"Would you stay if we changed your shift? Would you stay if you moved to a different position? We have actually reached out to every person that left our organization to come back," said Laura Beeth, vice president of talent acquisition for M Health Fairview.

As hospitals try to fill open positions, long-term care facilities are also feeling it -- with an unprecedented 25,000 jobs to fill in that field -- and a plea for livable wages to be able care for our state's seniors.

"We need to look very carefully about prioritizing the whole health care continuum because when we're broke, it ripples to everyone," said Patti Cullen, president and CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota.

Health Care Workers Generic
(credit: CBS)

Health care leaders believe retention and recruitment efforts as early as high school can help.

"I've never seen in my career more times where someone can go to school, be supported, earn and learn at the same time … and then really be supported through the system to move up the career ladders," Beeth said.

They also hope for the same type of thanks they felt at the start of the pandemic, replaced too often they say with combative families with their own treatment plans -- making burnout an even bigger problem.

"They're being told by our community that they need to do better," said Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. "That's the opposite of gratitude."

Meanwhile, we're getting a better idea of how many health care workers have been let go due to the vaccine mandate. Mayo Clinic announced earlier this week about 700 employees were fired. CentraCare lost more than 200 workers.

The numbers were smaller elsewhere. Fairview lost less than 200 and at Hennepin Healthcare just one person was let go.

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to take up the vaccine mandate Friday. Health care leaders expect that decision to play a role moving forward.

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