By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — You don’t have to look far to find a place in need of workers. But the pandemic has hit the health care industry especially hard.

From paramedics to nurses, there are hundreds of openings at one Twin Cities hospital alone. North Memorial Health is getting creative in welcoming new workers onboard, according to Talent Acquisition Manager Allison Gibbons.

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“We’re having a job fair here today for North Memorial,” Gibbons said.

A more typical setting for students in search of a college or a career, Thursday became a tool in the hunt for health care workers.

“We know over the last year with the pandemic it’s been a struggle. We have a high level of open positions right now,” Gibbons said.

North Memorial has more than 400 jobs to fill — the most the health system has ever seen. Jen Shaft is the emergency department nurse manager.

“It’s just been nonstop, it’s been so busy, people are just getting exhausted,” Shaft said.

Managers in nursing and security blame burnout between the pandemic and public safety.

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“On top of COVID we’re dealing with a lot of issues, the stuff in the community, the violence going on,” Shaft said.

Paul Tangen is a supervisor with Safety and Security.

“We’re looking for security officers with either no experience, looking to gain security experience. It’s also a good stepping stone for anyone who wants to get into law enforcement,” Tangen said.

Gibbons says the hospital has made mental health a top priority to be able to retain the workers who are still here. From housekeeping to the operating room, organizers want job seekers to know there are a wide range of positions available. With on-the-spot interviews, and in some cases a few offers on the table as of Thursday morning.

“Just to be able to support our team, to fill these positions quickly to support our community and our customers,” Gibbons said.

Other health systems across Minnesota report similar problems with smaller candidate pools and a competitive job market.

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Park Nicollet is also hosting a career fair Tuesday, Aug. 31, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Liz Collin