Monument Health’s Custer Care Center will close due to staffing shortages, according to a news release Monday.
Mark Schmidt, the president of the Custer market, said Monument’s Health Board of Directors made the decision to close the center but no target date has been set.
“This is neither a financial decision nor a recent development,” he said in the news release. “Given the tight local job market, we’ve relied heavily on traveling nurses, traveling certified nursing aides and international workers to safely maintain care at the Custer facility.”
Schmidt said the hospital is facing “intense competition” for travelers, and immigration challenges made it “nearly impossible” to recruit internationally.
He told the Journal Monday afternoon that work force challenges have existed within the facility for a number of years, but particularly over the last couple of years.
He said a couple years ago they recognized an issue in local employment, so they turned to an international program called Passport. Schmidt said over the last two years, immigration challenges caused the facility to be unable to use the program.
“We lost the local work force to fill these positions and on top of that, we lost the opportunity to supplement it with these programs,” Schmidt said.
The Custer Care Center has a total of 52 employees, which includes 41 regular caregivers. About 21% of workers are travelers or contractors. There are currently no international workers.
The center will remain open until each resident finds a replacement. About 30 of the 76 available beds are occupied at the facility, Schmidt said.
Schmidt said there is a retention and redeployment plan for existing caregivers to meet the needs of residents until alternative housing is found.
Dr. Lisa Brown, one of the primary care physicians at the center, said it’s been hard to watch the closure happen, but they struggle with workers in all of its areas.
“We need to do this process and take a pause, regroup as a community and see what it is that we need,” Brown said. “It’s definitely a part of the care sector that the community needs, but the question is how do we serve that need. We’ll have to see where we go from here.”