BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- There's a three pronged strategy at Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) to hire much needed nurses.
According to the Vice President of nursing at EMMC, Deb Sanford, hospitals in Maine could be short as many as 3,200 nurses by 2025 if the current trend continues. Maine has the oldest population in the country and more Mainers are reaching retirement age than are applying for jobs. When Sanford became Vice President two years ago she didn't waste any time figuring out a solution. The first part of her plan is implementing a residency program for new graduate nurses, the other two parts require going out of state to find qualified candidates.
"International recruitment and our third is recruiting experienced nurses from other parts of the country in which there are surpluses," said Sanford.
Sanford contracted Avant Healthcare Professionals to find international nurses to move to Bangor. Kyrah Neil came from Jamaica last March to work in the hospital's emergency room. NEWS CENTER Maine interviewed her during the first big blizzard of 2018 that dropped more than 15 inches of snow at her new home. A cold climate and snowy forecast are two of the hardest adjustments for her compared to the warmth and sunshine she's used to.
"Somewhere between 85 and 90, which is usual," said Neil. "That was a culture shock for me. I was told it was going to be cold, but this cold is something different."
Once nurses get used to Maine's weather, they are able to focus on the task at hand. Filling a void in Maine's workforce and helping those who live here get better. Kristen Gutierrez accepted a job at EMMC after working in her home state of Mississippi. She's enjoyed her two years of getting to know patients from all over the state.
"You talk to someone who's from Caribou, or Fort Kent, or anywhere Downeast and they'll tell you all about where they're from and you can hear all kinds of fun stories," said Gutierrez.
Sanford plans on hiring another 20-25 international nurses by spring.