Carrying Out our Ministry

June 13, 2018

A national nursing shortage is causing many health care systems to recruit personnel from other areas. Last year when Hurricane Maria ravaged the island of Puerto Rico many nurses and health care professionals were left without power, basic necessities, and jobs. 

Earlier this year Amber McIntosh, executive director at Abernethy Laurels retirement community in Newton, NC, was feeling the impact of the nursing shortage at her retirement community which employees approximately 50 nurses when staffed at capacity. She also realized that residents in Puerto Rico were still in desperate need. That is when she had the notion to employ health care professionals from the island. “I mentioned this idea at a leadership meeting and everyone felt like helping these nurses with employment opportunities would not only be beneficial to both parties, but also aligned nicely with the mission of our organization to provide diverse programs of outreach,” shared McIntosh. “We are able to give them the opportunity to come to the mainland and leave the hurricane devastation behind as well as use the skills they went to school for.”

Several members of leadership boarded a plane in early May and headed to the island to interview numerous nurses. “It’s sad to witness the citizens in Puerto Rico still dealing with so much devastation.  Many of the interviewees shared that they want a better life and more opportunity for themselves and their families,” shared Cathy Cooper, chief HR officer. “These individuals want to work. They are passionate about health care. They want to provide for their families, and they are willing to make tremendous sacrifices to do just that.”

The nurses arrived in Newton this past Friday. Team members at Abernethy Laurels partnered with several local Latino support organizations to help welcome them to the mainland and acclimate them to the area.

“Many individuals from Puerto Rico are bilingual, so they already have a good handle on the language,” shared McIntosh. “Many clinical processes that they are already familiar with easily translate here on the mainland.” The nurses will spend the next several months working towards obtaining the proper nursing licensure for North Carolina.

“We are so honored and humbled to provide this opportunity to these healthcare professionals as part of our ministry,” shared McIntosh.