Legacy staffs hospital

A national search turned up 26,000 applicants for 700 jobs, many are county residents shortening commutes

Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital will open its doors at 7 a.m. on Aug. 15. And while the $275 million facility gradually began to rise from the dirt the past two years, an entirely different undertaking was happening behind the scenes.

Legacy Health System began the hiring process for the hospital’s nearly 700 employees.

“The process of hiring and training the staff has gone amazingly well,” said Salmon Creek Administrator Jonathan Avery. “We were faced with a fairly tight timeline to bring on 700 people.”

More than 26,000 applications from across the country began piling in as soon as positions were posted.

“People are excited about Salmon Creek because it’s a rare opportunity for healthcare professionals to be part of a 21st century hospital from the ground up,” said nursing recruiter Barb Becker.

The shortage of healthcare workers being felt throughout the industry has affected the radiology department’s ability to fill less desirable positions such as part-time and overnight slots, said Diane Buelt, the hospital’s director of imaging. However, a lot of Clark County residents working in other healthcare fields in Portland applied at Salmon Creek. Approximately 300 of Salmon Creek’s employees are transfers from within Legacy Health System who live in Clark County. As a result, a backfill plan was instituted to replace transfers from other facilities. Avery said Legacy was unable to accommodate the number of employees who wanted to transfer.

Aside from the technologically-advanced features included in the construction of the hospital, other amenities included in the design of the facility are designed to attract and retain workers. For both staff and visitors, there is valet parking available free of charge. Patient lift devices reduce staff back injuries, and oval-shaped nursing units minimize walking. Additionally, each nursing unit and many of the staff lounges have an outdoor porch.

“Employees were involved every step of the way,” said Avery. “You can see that in many ways within the facility. There are several things we have done from a patient-safety as well as from a staff-safety perspective that are new to this hospital.”

The average wage at the hospital is $28 per hour.

The first new hires were brought on just two months ago, before the facility was complete. Legacy partnered with the Vancouver Hilton to conduct orientation and training at the new downtown hotel. Computer training on 140 computers in several rooms was done at the hotel. A new nurse training facility at Emanuel Hospital was utilized to train Salmon Creek’s nursing staff.

“I have been really impressed at how everyone has come together around bringing on so many people in such a tight time frame,” said Avery.

The hospital will open with 151 beds and begin by offering emergency services. Elective surgeries will be scheduled beginning Sept. 1. The sixth floor of the hospital is not completely built out, and as demand allows, will be built out to allow for expansion to 220 beds. Additional staff would be hired to accommodate the expansion.

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