ARCOLA - It has been a struggle for many rural hospitals to keep their doors open, especially the emergency departments.
Due to issues with staffing, the Arcola Health Centre has had to close the emergency department for 24 hours and it is not the only one having this problem.
Having a hospital in rural areas is an essential service and it is one that the retention and recruitment committee will not allow to close, if they can help it.
The committee was formed in April 2022, and since then it has held three events for the staff at the Arcola Hospital.
The retention and recruitment committee’s main focus is to keep the staff at the hospital by offering incentives such as staff barbecues, pizza parties and gift bags to show how much employees are appreciated.
“It is very important that we keep the staff we have, while gaining more staff at the same time,” said committee member Joanne Hollingshead.
Often students attend university for their nursing degrees only to take jobs in the larger centres once they graduate.
On Sept. 14, the retention and recruitment committee held its first barbecue for public awareness and it was quite successful. Over 100 people came to enjoy some freshly barbecued burgers outside the Arcola Health Centre.
At this barbecue, they explained to the crowd what they were all about and how they were trying to make a difference with the staffing issues at the hospital.
For the first time, they also offered bursaries to two students with a service agreement.
The bursary is available to applicants in years two to four of a nursing degree program.
With a $2,000 bursary for one school year, the successful applicant must sign a return-of-service agreement and could receive the bursaries for three years.
Depending on how many bursaries they receive will depend on the one or two-year service agreement.
If at the time there would not be an available position at the Arcola Hospital for a new graduate, the person may be placed at another location that is in the area and agreed upon by the committee. In return, the recipient would not have to repay the bursary.
If an applicant decides they have changed their mind and do not wish to work in Arcola, they must pay back the bursaries they have received.
This year’s recipients of the bursaries were Ashlyn Taillon and Jodi Neufeld. They are both in at least their second year in their degrees.
Kelly Brown, another committee member, said they plan to continue to offer two more bursaries to new applicants per year, but there would be only two recipients per graduating year.
Eventually they could be supporting up to six students a year if they have two applicants each year.
They have received great support from individuals and local and area businesses. They have even received memorials from loved ones who have died.
The barbecue had people from all ages attend from Arcola, Carlyle and Kisbey.
The committee was pleased with the turnout and hope to continue to educate people through their cause to retain and recruit more staff for the Arcola Hospital, so they in turn can help to keep the rural hospital open at all times.