May 31—LA GRANDE — Grande Ronde Hospital and Clinics announced Friday, May 28, it will be shutting down its hospice care program in June 2021.
The board of trustees made the decision at its May 2021 meeting, according to a press release from Grande Ronde Hospital.
"Our community is not exempt from the serious national shortage on health care workers," said Grande Ronde Hospital and Clinics President and Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Davis. "Over the past year, it has become increasingly difficult to find nursing staff to support our hospice program."
The hospital is coordinating with local hospice care centers to create a smooth transition for the patients. There are two alternative hospice care centers in La Grande following the shutdown of Grande Ronde Hospital's program.
The stoppage comes in the wake of workforce shortages in the health care industry that have been escalated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Selina Shaffer, director of GRH's Home Care Services, said the hospice program has been in service since the 1980s. The workforce shortage over the last year led Shaffer and the program to look at long-term options for hospice care at the hospital.
"The fallout from COVID-19 has changed the workforce landscape and we are no longer immune to that reality in Union County," she said.
Prior to its closure, the hospice care program was run jointly with the home health program. The hospital will now focus that department's attention fully on the Home Health Care program, with the current hospice employees being transitioned into home health.
The home health care service will continue to operate at full capacity.