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(September 22, 2021 11:50 AM) Crain’s Detroit is reporting this morning that Henry Ford Health System has filed paperwork with international recruiting firms to hire 500 nurses from the Philippines over the next few years.

Henry Ford Health has about 1,000 open nursing positions across its five hospitals and outpatient centers and is struggling to keep up with its patient load, Bob Riney, COO and president of health care operations, told Crain’s from the Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island.

With bed capacity at 95% and staffing levels diminished, HFHS temporarily closed (out of 2,000 available beds) 120 beds across the health system.  Adnan Munkarah, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer said that the level of care is not impacted.  The majority of the closed beds are at the Detroit and Jackson hospitals.

In an interview with Crain’s, Riney said Henry Ford hopes to recruit the first 100-150 nurses from the Philippines in the next 12 months.  Riney told Crain’s the system has twice previously recruited nurses from the Philippines in the 1980s and early 2000s.

According to the article, Henry Ford Health currently employs 7,000 registered nurses out of its 33,000 total employees. 

Last week, Senior leaders at HFHS announced that 98 percent of its workforce is compliant with its COVID-19 vaccine requirement that took effect Sept. 10.

Under the requirement, team members were considered compliant if they were fully vaccinated, had received their first of a two-dose vaccine or had received an approved medical or religious exemption by midnight on Friday. Those who were not in compliance are now suspended and have until Oct. 1 to comply. Team members can return to work during that time frame as soon as they receive their first dose.

“We are incredibly proud of the commitment our team has made to public health, the health and safety of our patients and their families, and to themselves and their communities,” said Bob Riney, President of Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer, said during a briefing with reporters. “As you may remember, when we announced the vaccine requirement in late June, we were at a 68% vaccination rate. Today’s update is a testament to how deeply our team cares about ending this pandemic.”

Riney said the health system will “continue to work” with team members who demonstrate a willingness to meet the vaccine requirement. Any team member who chooses not to get vaccinated by Oct. 1 will voluntarily resign from the organization. He called the vaccine requirement a “potentially life-saving policy.”

“It has long been our hope and goal to keep every member of our Henry Ford family,” Riney said. “That’s why it’s important to note that even those who choose to resign because of our vaccine requirement will have the option to re-apply if they change their mind and decide to get vaccinated.”

Riney told Crain’s that they hope to recruit the first 100-150 nurses from the Philippines in the next 12 months, though he said he hopes the recruiters can make that happen in nine months.

 “Our experience in the past has been very positive,” Riney was quoted as saying. “Their training is very similar to that of the U.S. They have a very strong nursing school education program. The nurses have assimilated to our health system very effectively.”

The recruiting effort has accelerated since the start of the pandemic, which has caused labor shortages throughout the health care industry.


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