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OSF HealthCare job fair looks to fill health care shortages

The job fair, hosted at OSF St. Mary, comes at a time when a nationwide survey found there could be a shortage of 3.2 million health care workers by 2026.

GALESBURG, Ill. — OSF HealthCare hosted a job fair Tuesday, Jan. 4 at its St. Mary Medical Center in Galesburg, hoping to fill clinical and non-clinical positions in Galesburg, Kewanee, Monmouth and Princeton.

"We have a wide variety of positions available, so of course nursing and our patient care tech's or EVS and laboratory imaging," said Lisa Dekezel, President of OSF St. Mary and Holy Family Medical Center. "We have positions open for providers as well."

It comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on healthcare workers who have been on the front lines of the pandemic for nearly two years. 

RELATED: Hospital workers struggle with burnout as COVID beds fill

A 2021 Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that nearly 30% of health care workers are considering leaving their profession altogether, with nearly 60% reporting impacts to their mental health stemmed from their work during the pandemic.

An American Hospital Association survey found there could be a shortage of up to 3.2 million health care workers by 2026. 

"Certainly we're not unlike anyone else in healthcare right now, where there certainly are a lot of open positions available," Dekezel said. "It's been a tough time. It's been a challenging time."

Overall, though, Dekezel said the hospitals are doing "okay" staffing wise, but there are times when it's had to slide employees into other positions to fill in. 

"We look at those who have those clinical competencies and the training to come in and to be all hands on deck to help fill some of those gaps and those vacancies that might come up due to open positions, due to illnesses, obviously with COVID being where it is," she said. "We continue, we take it one day at a time and every shift by shift."

Turnout for the job fair was better than expected. 

"It really reflects the community's commitment to keeping care local, and ensuring that we have the resources we need to maintain those services," Dekezel said. "So very thankful, was really a lot of positive energy here today. And we're very excited about that."

One of the applicants at the fair was Galesburg High School senior Kaylee Allen. She's going to be attending college in the fall to get her bachelor's in nursing, but for now, wants to get her "foot in the door" so she's ahead for the future.

"I want to start as doing a tech job and then once I get my bachelor's in nursing, I'd like to do more nursing stuff. And then I'd like to go to graduate school to become a nurse anesthetist," Allen said. "Since (St. Mary's) just in town, it's really easy and convenient for me."

Her mom is a MRI tech, so Allen's heard all about the health care profession. During the pandemic, she has questioned whether nursing is the field she wants to enter into, but ultimately decided it's the right path.

"We're just people," she said. "Being around that has just like more hope in the health field, and it's a needed job. So it's necessary."

OSF was looking to fill upwards of 25 positions at the job fair, according to Dekezel.