Idaho hospital builds employee housing to combat staff shortages

Ketchum, Idaho-based St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center began constructing four condo units for employees in an effort to attract and retain staff, Boise State Public Radio reported Oct. 1.

There will be a total of 12 employee condo units built over the next year in a joint effort among the hospital, St. Luke's Wood River Foundation and a community housing trust, ARCH.

The hospital has been struggling to retain staff because of the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of affordable healthcare in tourist areas, according to the publication. Hospital COO Carmen Jacobsen said the facility currently has 69 job openings, with about 30 percent of them for nurses.

Although affordable housing has been a problem in the area for a while, the pandemic made it worse, increasing the median Blaine County residential sale price by 30 percent in the first half of 2020 compared to the year before, Boise State Public Radio reported.

Currently, some traveling nurses camp out in RVs in the parking lot, while other employees are forced to move.

"The houses they were renting or condos they were renting were either being sold or converted to a short-term rental," Ms. Jacobsen said.

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