Re­cruit­ment with a mis­sion twist

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

Out­liers knows ru­ral hos­pi­tals of­ten strug­gle to hang on to physi­cians and other med­i­cal staff. So we were in­trigued by the story of a Kansas hos­pi­tal—un­til re­cently on the verge of clos­ing be­cause it had the last doc­tor in a suc­ces­sion of those who came to the re­mote town and left— which came up with an in­no­va­tive so­lu­tion.

At Ash­land (Kan.) Health Cen­ter, all em­ploy­ees, from main­te­nance peo­ple to physi­cians, get eight paid weeks off each year that they can use to do mis­sion­ary work in other coun­tries. The idea: Peo­ple will­ing to care for the sick and suf­fer­ing in de­vel­op­ing na­tions might be con­tent to do the same in a town of 855 peo­ple, more than two hours away from the near­est Star­bucks.

The pub­lic hos­pi­tal be­gan ad­ver­tis­ing that ben­e­fit—which em­ploy­ees can use for other vol­un­teer work or any pur­pose they choose, not only mis­sion work—in Chris­tian pub­li­ca­tions and at Catholic-run med­i­cal schools. To­day, the crit­i­cal-ac­cess hos­pi­tal has a chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer, a med­i­cal tech­nol­o­gist, a nurs­ing di­rec­tor, a nurse prac­ti­tioner and other staff drawn by its mis­sion-minded re­cruit­ing. It’s now look­ing for nurses, a den­tist and a phys­i­cal ther­a­pist.

“I was not sur­prised by the dif­fer­ences be­tween ru­ral Kansas and ru­ral Zim­babwe. What sur­prised me were the sim­i­lar­i­ties,” says the hos­pi­tal’s 32-year-old ad­min­is­tra­tor, Ben­jamin An­der­son, who has been the cat­a­lyst for the pro­gram. “I am not say­ing ru­ral Kansas is the same as a de­vel­op­ing coun­try, I am sim­ply say­ing ru­ral Kansas and ru­ral Zim­babwe strug­gle with some of the same chal­lenges—they just look dif­fer­ent.”

Among Ash­land’s new hires are Lacey Mol­lel and her hus­band, Enkaiye. As the child of mis­sion­ar­ies in Tan­za­nia, she grew up “play­ing in the bush in the mid­dle of nowhere” with the boy who would be­come her hus­band. She came back to the U.S. for col­lege, and Enkaiye, a former Ma­sai war­rior, fol­lowed later.

The cou­ple left In­di­anapo­lis to work at the Ash­land hos­pi­tal—she as a cer­ti­fied nurse as­sis­tant, he as a groundskeeper—af­ter her un­cle, a pas­tor in Ash­land, told them about the op­por­tu­nity.

Lacey Mol­lel said they would not have left In­di­anapo­lis “un­less you feel some call­ing or pur­pose in what you are do­ing.”

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