The Brighter Side

A North Carolina skilled nursing provider has found a win-win solution for its staffing woes by offering jobs to nurses struggling to find work in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

Chatham Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Elkin, NC, was in need of nurses when Michelle Fontaine, director of operations for operator Century Care Management, had an idea.

“I thought of Puerto Rico,” Fontaine told WTHI-TV 10.

The provider worked with RDC Recruiting Services to find nurses in Puerto Rico looking for a fresh start and eventually interviewed and selected a group of eight employees.

“They’ve been working as waitresses, sales positions, any jobs that they could find,” Fontaine said.

The nurses will receive education to become registered nurses from a local community college and have their housing and coursework covered by Century for two months. They’ll take their licensing exams within a few months and work at Chatham for two years, Fontaine said.

Zulimi De Jesus, one of the nurses in the program, used to teach nursing in Puerto Rico before coming to Chatham. She said the aftermath of Hurricane Maria made finding employment difficult.

“It was awful. Many people still don’t have houses,” she told the television station. “We are a group that just wants to give love to our patients and do the best that we can.”

Thanks to a creative skilled nursing provider, they’re getting a chance to do just that — and a have a fresh start.