“We’re Still Recruiting:” For Rural Nurses, Loan Repayment May Provide Answers | Local

Huerta Hospital is located on top of a hill in Arco, a town whose economy is driven by tourists who travel to lava caves at the craters of the moon or to see geysers and bison at the park. Yellowstone National. The city is over an hour’s drive from Idaho Falls, the largest city in eastern Idaho.

“It is difficult to get people to settle in these rural areas. There are no Starbucks. We don’t have a fast food restaurant, ”said Brad Smoot, head nurse at Lost Rivers. “It’s the life of a small town. It must be something you want to do to relocate to this area.

Just because a hospital can’t hire someone doesn’t mean its community’s health care needs get any easier. Hospitals still have to deal with fractures, concussions, falls and heart attacks.

This is where itinerant nurses come in. Their costs skyrocketed last year, when healthcare facilities were ravaged by COVID-19 patients and needed more staff. But even before the pandemic, hiring mobile nurses at high rates was a reality for rural hospitals.

Bringing in healthcare workers temporarily is an important recruiting tactic for a Salmon hospital. Traveling nurses sometimes fall in love with the area, said Jeanie Gentry, CEO of Steele Memorial Medical Center. But it’s expensive. Typically, “it costs twice as much to pay for a traveling nurse… than for a regular salaried nurse,” she said.

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