Heart of America hospital staffing concerns prompt town hall meeting

Angie Reinoehl/MDN The $52 million Heart of America Medical Center is set to finish construction this summer. HAMC is planning to fully move operations to the new facility in October of this year.

A town hall has been scheduled by the Heart of America Medical Center to engage with the Rugby community regarding staffing struggles that are impacting services at the rural critical access hospital.

The town hall scheduled for Monday, May 20, at 6 p.m. at the HAMC – Fox Auditorium in Rugby will provide an opportunity for the hospital’s leadership to engage with the public to explore emerging issues with its operations at the new hospital, the future of assisted living and care facility Haaland Estates, and various services that will be impacted or limited by the lack of staffing.

HAMC Board Chairman Wayne Trottier and Chief Executive Officer Erik Christenson announced the meeting in an open letter to the communities in the region, saying HAMC is facing “a perfect storm that may limit access to health care in some rural communities.”

While HAMC is preparing to begin transferring its operations to a new facility set to complete construction later this summer, the letter stated it “has become increasingly difficult” to staff the health care services needed in the community.

“We ask for your attendance and participation in this discussion as we will use this information to inform our decisions going forward,” the letter said.

Christenson had previously alluded to the staffing issues during a guided tour of the construction of the new hospital with Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, on Feb. 20. Christenson said at the time that the hospital was “right where we need to be with staffing,” but described maintaining the requirements for the rural health clinic as, “a balancing act.”

“Where we’re really short is in nursing and CNAs (certified nursing assistants). I have 14 contract nurses and CNAs on site. I’m short and I got more retiring that have been in the community and no one is replacing them. That’s going to become a crisis, and it doesn’t peak till about 2027. Nurses are the core of healthcare. I can get providers and doctors out here. I can’t get nurses. It’s an issue.” Christenson said during discussions with Hoeven.

A recent study by WalletHub, a personal finance company, ranked North Dakota 28th on a list of the best places to work as a nurse. All 50 states were evaluated based on a variety of factors from monthly/annual average salaries, job openings per capita, and nurses per 1,000 residents, mandatory overtime restrictions, ratio of nurses to hospital beds, commute time, and friendliness toward working parents. North Dakota was scored toward the bottom in competition and opportunity rankings, but was placed just outside the top 10 in regard to work environment.

The Pierce County Tribune contacted Christenson for further comment, but did not receive a response.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today