Nursing shortage drives Duluth health care center to give away car

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How do you keep your nursing staff happy when you're asking them to pick up extra shifts?

The Chris Jensen Health and Rehabilitation Center in Duluth decided a Chevy Cruze might help. That was the Center's biggest prize in a series of perks provided to nursing staff who kept a perfect attendance record, even as a shortage of workers in the profession means fewer people doing more work.

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The car that nursing assistant Ramona Kenowski won when her name was drawn was the big ticket item, but as WDIO reports, a resort vacation, iPads, Fitbits, and other prizes were also handed out this week, as Chris Jensen – like other health care facilities – works to hold onto its nurses and keep their morale up.

The Center's executive director, Ed Brady, tells the station the shortage of nursing staff is getting worse, saying ""In every building I've been to across Wisconsin and Minnesota, there's seven, eight, nine nurses needed."

The CEO of the Chris Jensen Center's parent company tells FOX 21 the incentive program for nurses will continue but what's really needed is more people entering the nursing field, both locally and nationally.

Demand for nurses outpacing supply

Northeastern Minnesota has plenty of company in its search for nursing help.

Hospitals in the Red River Valley are expanding faster than their nursing staffs despite recruiting bonuses. In southeastern Minnesota, nursing homes are feeling the pinch as more nurses leave for jobs with the Mayo Clinic system, MPR News reports.

Indeed, it's a nationwide trend, which the American Nurses Association says is fueled mainly by an aging population. Retiring Baby Boomers are needing more medical care and nurses themselves are increasingly retiring.

A Minnesota Hospital Association report last year found the same dynamic among doctors and forecast a worsening physician shortage over the next decade.

More giveaways? Executives at Duluth's Chris Jensen tell FOX they can't afford to hand out a car every month. But they are looking at ATVs, snowmobiles, and boats...

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