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Help wanted? Providers try to adjust

Help wanted? Providers try to adjust

Erik MickelsonYARMOUTH, Maine – HME providers say difficulties hiring – and keeping – employees is hurting business and forcing them to get creative. 

Provider George Kucka says it’s like “pulling teeth” to get people to even show up for interviews, let alone show up once they are hired. 

“We’re under capacity,” said Kucka, president of Fairmeadows Home Health in Schererville, Ind. “People get prescriptions for PAP, but don’t have enough therapists to do the setups. Same with drivers when people need hospital beds or wheelchairs. We did maybe 60% or 70% of the opportunities we could fulfill last month.”  

Specialties are especially trying 

It’s definitely challenging for providers who need to hire employees with special certifications, including orthotists, pedorthists and ATPs, says James Rogers, who owns both Chattanooga-based PPS Orthotic and Prosthetic and Phoenix Rehab and Mobility.  

“I think many have gotten out of health care over the years, especially in these areas where there’s not that many O&P providers or CRT providers,” he said. “In the big cities, maybe it’s not quite as much (of an issue) but in the secondary markets, they clearly have a need for providers, and it’s very, very difficult to find the talent that goes along with that.” 

Hiring practices evolve 

For provider Erik Mickelson, employee referrals are “hands down” the best way to hire good employees these days. He currently has four job openings in the U.S. and two in the Philippines, where he launched a separate business to take care of back-office functions. 

“I would say 50% of our good hires are referrals in-house,” said Mickelson, CEO of Yakima, Wash.-based Howard’s Medical Supply. “If anyone refers family, a friend or a contact and we hire them they get $500. I do the same for the Philippines business. They get $250 once they get through (the first) three months, which is converted to pesos. That helps our retention rate.” 

Keep the employees you have 

Provider Dale Shimabuku says she’s been lucky to have a low turnover rate among her staff. In addition to higher pay and more flexibility, she says it also helps to understand what employees want and need from an employer. 

“We try to take some employee surveys to figure out what they value, not just what we value,” said Shimabuku, president of Gammie Home Care, which has locations on Maui and Kauai in Hawaii. “We’ve tried to do everything we can to incentivize the staff that’s here not to leave and continue to support those we have.”


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