Instead of waiting for solutions from state and federal health officials, a Chicago long-term care provider has taken its staffing shortage crisis into its own hands by reaching overseas for help. 

Chicago Methodist Senior Services, which offers skilled nursing, assisted living, memory care and home care programs, developed the United Methodists Healthcare Recruitment program in 2005 to help it recruit nurses from the Philippines. The program has really paid off in recent months, supplying hundreds of licensed nurses when many operators across the country are struggling.  

The provider has recruited more than 300 licensed nurses through the program’s pipeline since implementation. 

“We are a small organization; we want to defend ourselves against the nursing shortage,” Bill Lowe, the provider’s president and CEO, told LeadingAge last week.

“The nice thing about the registered nurses from the Philippines is that they train them well; they’re BSNs when they arrive here. Hopefully, that will be one of the solutions our government comes up with,” he added. 

The federal government has reduced the number of workers and slowed down final interviews for candidates coming from the Philippines due to the pandemic, but the company expects to have another 100 nurses after the health restrictions end, according to Lowe. He added that if he could, he would also use the program to recruit immigrant certified nursing assistants, as well. 

The operator feels like the company is “well-calibrated, if the U.S. government ever throws up its hands and says we’re going to need immigrants to help tackle this problem,” Lowe said. “Theoretically, those frontline workers could come from anywhere in the world.”