Martinsville health care providers talk about nurse shortage

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) Local health care providers are feeling the impact from a shortage of nurses.

It hits home especially in the small town communities of Martinsville and Henry County.

At Blue Ridge Rehab Center, leaders tell WDBJ7 they have a dozen or more positions open at any given time.

That's why they have to partner with local colleges. But this year, even class sizes are down.

"Well it means trouble for us because we provide care and if we can't provide the basic care givers then it creates a real situation that we need to address,” said Chris Oswald of the Blue Ridge Rehab Center.

Oswald says they have laid out some short term solutions.

"We've increased wages across the board,” he said.

And are working on the long-term.

"Situation between the hospitals and the home health providers and the nursing homes to try and figure out ways to excite people," Oswald said.

Leaders say the love or desire to be a nurse or nurse's aide is lower than ever before.

Deborah Dillard has been a part of the Blue Ridge team since 1997. Now, the Director of Nursing, she says to be a nurse you have to want to care for others.

“I don't know where the passion is, or I don't know where the passion has gone,” Dillard said.

In an effort to increase interest in nursing, both Blue Ridge Rehab Center and the local hospital are working with Patrick Henry Community College to provide incentives and fill nursing positions.

"30 percent of our graduates go to work for Martinsville, the RN graduates,” said Amy Webster, Coordinator of Nursing and Health Sciences at Patrick Henry Community College.

In the past, college leaders say they've had to turn away students form the Certified Nurse Assistant class. This year, there's only 7 students in the class, which is described as the backbone of nursing.

"So, I'd love to see more nurse aid students. Just because it's a challenging, physically demanding career but also offers an opportunity to progress in the professional ladder,” Webster said.

On Thursday, Blue Ridge Heath is holding job fairs from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

All CNAs, LPNs, and RNs, who may be interested in full-time, part-time can meet the staff.

You can also visit the website

The facility is located at 300 Blue Ridge Street in Martinsville.