Rising housing costs hinder hospital operations

As housing prices rise, hospital hires stall, and prime examples of that trend have emerged in Alaska and Idaho. 

Kodiak, Alaska-based Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center is struggling to fill 45 vacant jobs, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported Aug. 25. Many of the positions offer a $10,000 relocation premium. However, that does not go far when the median cost of a home in Kodiak is $445,000, according to the Mirror

“Over the last year, we’ve made offers to nine nurses, and we lost all nine because they couldn’t find a place to live," Karl Hertz, Providence Kodiak Island's administrator, told the Mirror

A similar issue is unfolding in Idaho, where advocates — Boise, Idaho-based St. Alphonsus Health System among them  — are calling on state lawmakers to increase affordable housing support, the Idaho Capital Sun reported Aug. 25. 

Housing insecurity is linked to public health, Rebecca Lemmons, St. Alphonsus' regional director of community health, told the Sun, adding that it increases anxiety, depression and disease transmission. Further, Zoe Olson, executive director of the Intermountain Fair Housing Council, told the Sun that of the 40 to 50 evictions her organization fields per day, many are people with disabilities. 

St. Alphonsus received 677 requests for housing help from patients between 2020 and 2021, Lemmons told the Sun, and providers spend a considerable amount of time deciding where to discharge patients. Exacerbating the problem is the fact potential new healthcare hirees cannot secure housing themselves, according to Lemmons. 

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