Featured business: Catastrophic staffing challenges in long-term care, help needed

Joel G. Kok, CHCC board of trustees

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Categorized in: Featured Business
Published on: January 13, 2023

Christian Health Care Center is a faith-based, nonprofit organization with a long history in Lynden and its neighboring small cities. It is guided by a board of trustees that currently includes myself and Jeany Aupperlee, Blake Bostrom, Vincent Buys, Kevin DeYoung, Emily Gibson, Nancy Hendricks, Jacki Matter, Jack Veltkamp and Jim Weinert.

Since 1956, CHCC has operated in alignment with a mission to provide skilled nursing care with compassion and love in Christ’s name, and we remain committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of this essential service in Lynden. However, we are in need of community support to do so.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, the staffing level at Christian Health Care Center has plummeted nearly 30%, from 260 to 190. Some employees retired, some moved away and some chose to leave the industry due to increased governmental regulations and vaccination requirements.

Despite continual wage increases, numerous vaccination exemptions and robust recruitment efforts, CHCC has not been able to rebuild staffing to pre-pandemic levels. To ensure that people get the care they need and deserve — and to minimize stress on the compassionate, dedicated staff who pull together to provide 24/7 coverage — we’ve had to turn away a large percentage of people seeking care.

60 beds sit empty at CHCC

Right now, 60 of 142 beds sit empty at CHCC. That’s 60 of our friends, family and neighbors who cannot receive the care they need close to home. We’ve heard from many people who, when declined admission at CHCC, are left wondering where they can turn for care.

While the pandemic has significantly reduced our staffing, it hasn’t lessened the needs of our community’s most vulnerable people. CHCC was founded by the community specifically to care for community members in North Whatcom County, and we are not able to meet their needs due to unprecedented staffing challenges.

Nationwide, staffing at care centers like ours is down 14% since the start of the pandemic, and the nursing home industry is by far the most affected sector in health care. And if that drop constitutes a “historic staffing crisis,” as the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living puts it, what we’re seeing here in North Whatcom County — with double those losses — is catastrophic.

How you can help

CHCC needs your help with staffing. We need people to come to work in all positions so we can increase our capacity to care for the elderly and people recovering from injury, illness or a medical procedure. Free training is even available for those who want to enter the industry.

Please visit chcclynden.org/careers for a list of job openings, and/or share this need with people you know who may be a good fit for the work.

Myself and the entire board of trustees thanks you for your consideration and support of this critical community resource.

Joel. G. Kok
CHCC Board of Trustees Chair

Media services by Bellingham PR & Communications

This op-ed, along with the necessary communications consulting, media distribution and additional copywriting services, were provided by Bellingham PR & Communications in Bellingham, Washington. Placement for this op-ed included the following media outlets:

Lynden Tribune
Bellingham Herald
Ferndale Record

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