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Piedmont Health Care Leaders Begin Critical Work to Address Key Talent Shortages in Region

| Health Care

Last year, 90% of our state’s health systems were operating in the red, largely due to traveling nurses and continued recovery from the pandemic. 

That is a reality Triad-based health system, Cone Health, knows all too well.  

Burnout within the industry is also a huge hurdle, which the health system is addressing as part of its long-term talent strategy. 

According to Dan Grigg, workforce development manager for Cone Health, over the next 5-10 years his organization is facing a shortage of CNAs, LPNs, medical assistants, radiographers, ultrasound techs, respiratory therapists, and surgical techs. 

The NC Health Talent Alliance, an initiative of the NC Chamber Foundation and the NC Center on the Workforce for Health, is continuing to expand its roots in communities such as the Triad to solve these difficult talent challenges and others within our state’s health care industry. 

The NC Chamber Foundation and the NC Center on the Workforce for Health are engaging local leaders and state-level stakeholders to support and launch phase-one implementation efforts. Phase one requires continued coalition building, training practitioners and supporters in the framework, fundraising, and forming and launching local partnerships to begin implementing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Talent Pipeline Management® (TPM®) data-driven approach. 

Shepherding this work in North Carolina’s Triad region is Piedmont AHEC, part of the NC AHEC program, which is working to engage its employer health care community and lead on solutions to address this critical need for the region. 

Additionally, a critical component of this infrastructure is the Regional Talent Pipeline Managers, like Piedmont AHEC’s Dana Millikan, who is building essential relationships with health care employers in the Triad—working to create cohesion between the education and business community. The NC Chamber Foundation underwrites the training for these regional positions. 

Speaking to the work of the collaborative, Grigg said, “I like the idea of it being a collaborative [among the region’s health care employers]. As part of that, we’re going to start addressing all our pain points early in the year.” 

“Even though we’re all competing for the same talent on a constant basis, the collaborative requires us to work together toward a common goal—solving for our region’s health care talent shortages.” 

Of course, needs vary by specific employers and counties, explained Terry Lynn, executive director of Piedmont AHEC. The regional AHEC office serves eight counties who will be part of the collaborative. Those counties include Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Guilford, Montgomery, Orange, Randolph, and Rockingham. Lynn noted that “The diversity of our collaborative partners speaks to the reach of the organizations, both rural and underserved, the AHEC serves—and how we’re well positioned to help lead this process.” 

“Just the fact that we are putting together all our data together and saying, ‘this is the reality of the situation.’ Because right now, so much is subjective for us,” said Grigg.  

Other needs voiced by the Piedmont AHEC Collaborative include mental health providers, CT technicians, substance abuse counselors, dietary staff, personal care aids, pharmacy technicians, and all nursing positions. 

Millikan explained that those involved in the collaborative, despite being extremely busy in their day jobs, see the clear value in this partnership and collaboration and are willing to put in the time and work. 

“They see that helping address their talent supply is mutually beneficial,” she said. “People are willing and ready to come together—and the larger the group we have the better chance we have to solve these issues.” 

The Piedmont AHEC collaborative held its kickoff meeting on January 9, which focused on discussing the most significant areas of needs and employer data. Discussions and insights from that meeting will help frame future conversations and outline next steps in the Piedmont AHEC region. 

To date, the Piedmont AHEC region has brought in 14 Piedmont AHEC area employers to its collaborative which include:  

  • AuthoraCare Collective 
  • Camden Health and Rehabilitation 
  • Century Care 
  • Compassion Health Care 
  • Cone Health 
  • Eagle Physicians 
  • Fellowship Hall 
  • Guilford County Emergency Services 
  • Harmony at Greensboro 
  • Linden Place Health and Rehabilitation 
  • Premier Home Health Care 
  • Randolph Health 
  • Triad Adult and Pediatric Medicine 
  • UNC Rockingham 

All nine of North Carolina’s AHEC regions will work directly with employers, training providers, and other community partners to create stronger talent development paths for critical positions. In the coming year, the group plans to expand to all 100 counties. The five current regional TPM® managers are working in sync with one another toward a common goal of eliminating the health care talent crisis. 

Learn more here about how the partnership is working to close the health care talent gap in all North Carolina regions. Cone Health is an NC Chamber Cornerstone member.