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Borderland hospitals work to incentivize employees to stay

EL PASO, Texas -- The Covid-19 pandemic left the health care industry with a lingering problem: staffing shortages. Hospitals across the borderland are not only working on finding people to work, but keeping them too.

University Medical Center is just one those local hospitals trying to get creative when it comes to incentivizing staff. There are two new programs available for staff to hopefully convince them to commit to the health care system, the CARES Student Loan Program and the CARES Pull-Opp Program.

Under the first program, UMC will pay current employee's student loans up to $5,000 every year that they commit to working with the hospital.

Under the second program, UMC will give $10,000 to any UMC employee, whether it's someone in engineering to custodial staff, interested in getting their degree in nursing.

This will allow them to get paid for going to work and be able to go to school. However, employees do have to commit to working for the hospital for several years.

UTEP is just one of the educational partners for the CARES Pull-Opp Program and will offer two pathways for employees who want to get their degree.

"When you talk to students who are in probably any of the health care programs in El Paso, one of the big challenges is most of our students work full or part time, and they go to school full or part time," said Dr. Leslie Robbins, dean of the School of Nursing at UTEP. "It makes it incredibly difficult because these are very hard courses and very hard programs. By having this great opportunity to split this 50/50, it allows them to have a greater chance of success. So we're excited for the employees at UMC to have this opportunity."

It's not just UTEP. El Paso Community College and Texas Tech University Health Science Center are also playing a large role.

A spokesperson for the hospital said the money to fund these programs come from existing operational dollars.

So far only 11 people have been accepted into the CARES Pull-Opp Program.

"This is really just an opportunity for us to incentivize people to not only finish their schooling, but for us to assist them and ensure greater respect, responsiveness and receptivity to staying at UMC," said Ryan Mielke, spokesperson for UMC.

If you're a UMC employee and you're interested in applying to the CARES Student Loan Program please contact Monica Armendariz. Call the hospital and dial ext. 7037.

If you're interested in the CARES Pull-Opp Program email Nellie Flores at nflores@umcelpaso.org

Brianna Chavez

Brianna Chavez is an ABC-7 reporter/producer.

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