A provider with almost 1,000 skilled nursing and short-term rehab beds has struck recruiting gold by tapping into some unusual methods to bolster its nursing workforce.

Scattered across three sites, Syracuse-based Loretto has come up with a range of remedies ranging from diaper giveaways to free urgent care, help with childcare and a program that helps employees purchase vehicles.

Changes have paid off, with the Loretto boasting a 79% retention rate of certified nursing assistants and home health aides, compared to industry averages hovering around 50%. The  provider, which is anchored by a hospital, was also recently honored by CareerStat as a 2018 Frontline Healthcare Worker Champions and Emerging Champions.

“We believe that healthcare is a point-0f-service business, meaning that the care an individual receives is only as good as the person standing in front of them,” President and CEO Kimberly Townsend told McKnight’s. “So, believing that, we focus very heavily on creating empowered employees, because they deliver great care.”

Loretto’s is a three-pronged approach to boosting staffing, Townsend said, including (1) deploying frontline supervisors or managers as career coaches for their frontline workers, with a dozen staff members qualified to deliver such training; (2) developing high-value partnerships with the community, including an institution called Health Train, to identify refer and teach individuals from the community to jump into healthcare; and (3) offering supportive programs to employees to help address “systemic barriers” to employment.

The latter is where the hospital deploys some of its most unique methods of attracting and keep employees for its skilled nursing and other positions. They have a bank that gives out about 6,000 free diapers each month to parents, and are now looking to expand that to grandparents, as well. Loretto is also considering the idea of a formula bank for mothers, along with helping employees with childcare and affordable housing. It also, in partnership with a credit union, helps employees with car buying, with payments made through payroll deductions. They have financial counseling, too, and more than 600 individuals have taken advantage of the free onsite urgent care clinic.

Townsend said leaders may not think of some of these perks as part of their purview, but four years later, they are ingrained in her institution’s culture .

“The programs and philosophies we’ve instituted have really developed from setting this big table, inviting everyone and making it clear that their voices were valued. It’s now just part of our DNA and it’s an ongoing conversation with our employees to solve problems.”