Melanie Wetmore

Melanie Wetmore, CNO, Mission Hospital

At Mission Hospital, we are keenly aware of the shortage of healthcare workers across our country. The COVID-19 pandemic and our rising hospitalized cases have only served to highlight an already great need.

As with any problem, creative solutions are needed to help solve it. Mission Hospital is taking steps every day to focus on showing appreciation for our staff while addressing our nursing shortage. Our ultimate goal is to love and care for our caregivers so they can continue to love and care for our patients.

This critical nursing shortage reaches beyond Asheville.

In the United States alone, there are 1.6 million job openings for nurses. Here at Mission Hospital we have more full-time/part-time openings for nurses than we ever have had in our 134-year history. In order to support our nurses and this immediate need, we have nearly 500 traveler employees working in Asheville to assist our staff, and we are in the process of adding another 350 traveler employees to help our Mission team members.

We have travel nurses and travelers in the roles of patient care technicians, patient support assistants, environmental services staff, and security staff. By adding these RN and support positions, our goal is to make things as efficient as possible for our nurses at the bedside in order to work through this critical staffing need, while remaining steadfast in our commitment to quality and compassionate care.

We have an exciting partnership with the multiple nursing programs in our area and are always looking at new ways to strengthen and expand these partnerships.

In addition, as part of HCA Healthcare we are able to benefit from the company’s StaRN initiative, an onsite nursing graduate program that helps new grad RNs to learn on the job and become comfortable and confident in their patient care over the course of their first year with us. This program attracts new talent from all over the country.

Mission Hospital is currently working to recruit nurses internationally. The plan to add 100 international nurses will surely change the face of Mission Hospital in a positive and diverse way.

We have three of these caregivers working at Mission now and expect another 27 by the end of the year.

Mission Hospital has an ongoing commitment to professional development, and we have several nursing students working in advanced roles. These student nurses are being taught how to love and care for patients while they move through their nursing school coursework.

Sometimes there are those with an interest in a career in healthcare, but there are time constraints or financial obstacles that prevent them from getting their education or certification.

Mission Hospital was given accreditation by the State of North Carolina to facilitate a CNA training program at both Mission Hospital and Highlands-Cashiers Hospital. Interested individuals can be hired by Mission Health as Patient Safety Attendants and will be paid a salary while participating in the six-week training to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. This program allows the participants to be paid while they learn and after passing the final exam, they will have a CNA job at Mission. A CNA certification is almost always a precursor to an RN degree, so this program also will help in adding more nurses to our area.

While this path forward is exciting, I am intimately aware of the emotional toll of working in healthcare in these difficult times. Yet, every day, team members share incredible stories about their peers.

I recently learned about a nurse who came in to work on her day off just to give a patient a backpack he needed. As it turns out, another nurse in this patient’s unit gave him some shoes. We have nurses who are nominated for humanitarian awards and the list goes on – every day I am in awe of the committed team of caregivers I am honored to work with at Mission. Their courage, strength, and commitment to the patients we are privileged to serve shows me that love is truly at the center of everything that we do at Mission Hospital, and I’m proud to serve as CNO with this team.

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