Mesa hospitals in need of therapists, nurses - East Valley Tribune: Business

Mesa hospitals in need of therapists, nurses

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Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2007 6:48 am | Updated: 4:50 pm, Wed Mar 19, 2014.

Mountain Vista Medical Center chose its initial staff of 320 from a mountain of more than 5,000 applications. The IASIS Healthcare hospital will open its doors late next month in far east Mesa.

“I would say that on average we’ve had 100 to 200 applicants a week applying for positions, some weeks more than others,” said Joe Marquart, the hospital’s human resources director.

“Our biggest challenge has been just simply being overwhelmed by the number of people who have been interested.”

Still, the 171-bed hospital at 1301 South Crismon Road near U.S. 60 is having a tough time filling some positions in the areas of physical therapy and respiratory therapy.

There’s no shortage of Arizonans interested in health care professions, said Bridget O’Gara, Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association spokeswoman.

However, the lack of training capacity keeps many from pursuing careers, and helps fuel the current shortage of qualified health care professionals, she said.

“Our shortages really stem from our exploding state population and a lack of capacity in our educational programs,” she said.

“The areas where we’re seeing significant shortages continue to be our registered nurses and the allied health professions, which would include physical therapists, occupational therapists, radiation technologists and pharmacists, as well as others.”

Last fall, Banner Baywood Medical Center at Power and Broadway roads in Mesa opened its seven-story patient tower, adding 120-plus beds to the existing 242.

The campus, which also includes Banner Heart Medical Center, has added more than 100 employees in the past year.

Banner Baywood always needs more nurses, as well as radiology technicians and respiratory therapists, and is helping local colleges accommodate more students, said Tom Koelbl, the hospital’s chief human resource officer.

“One of the problems they’re having is there’s no shortage of students trying to get in, but there’s a need for clinical instructors and clinical time,” he said. “So Banner has initiated a program where we’re actually providing instructors to help with the programs ... which ultimately means more nurses graduating. It helps not only Banner, but all of the health care delivery folks in the region.”

The state Legislature appropriated $20 million to Arizona’s Partnership in Nursing Education with the goal of doubling the capacity of the state’s nursing education programs by 2010.“We’re getting close to that goal, but there is definitely a lot of work to be done in that arena because of the increasing population,” O’Gara said.

“There is a lot of innovation going on and a lot being invested in making sure that people can get into the health professions, and that we have the work force that we need to care for patients.”

One advantage Mountain Vista Medical Center has had in recruiting is many health care professions are attracted to new hospitals, said Kelly Adams, the hospital’s CEO.

“We’ve hit our initial hire number and eventually we’ll beat 400 to 500 employees,” he said. “It’s all driven by the number of patients who are in house. We appear to be very fortunate with recruiting.”

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