Workforce Housing Shortage Could Affect Hilton Head Medical Care

They save lives every day, but Hilton Head Island Hospital employees are giving up a lot to work there. A lot of their time to get to and from work.

Hardeeville. Ridgeland. Even Estill and Allendale.

Thats how far some folks are going for a good job at a good hospital on Hilton Head Island.

Many tell News 3 they’ve been making the drive for years. But its the next generation of medical help that may be an issue for the hospital and the Island’s medical care.

“Its changed a lot its grown a lot,” said Annette Bright, Nurse Assistant.

Annette Bright would know. she’s been at Hilton Head Hospital for 25 years. Travelling to and from Hardeeville every day.

“Depending on whats going on it could be an hour or even longer just sitting there,” said Annette.

She isn’t the only one with a long commute. 2/3 of the people who work at the hospital don’t live on Hilton Head. Some commute from as far away as Ridgeland or even Estill to work every day.

“We are facing some challenges when it comes to our techs, some of our nursing assistants as well,” explained Jeremy Clark, CEO of Hilton Head Hospital.

Challenges which CEO Jeremy Clark says don’t affect your healthcare now, but could be an issue later.

“Approximately 1/3 of our staff are 55 and older,” said Clark. “So as we look out over the next 5-10 years we are going to have a lot of people enjoying and deserving a great retirement.”

Retirement of current staff means new workers are needed.

The compensation is good. Hospital median salaries are $60,000.

But no matter the dollar amount.. a lack of housing could affect the ability to hire.

“As we continue to grow we have got to get the right people here to serve both our tourist community as well as our local community,” explained the CEO.

“We’ve been very fortunate in that regards that we live in a place that people want to move to,” said Clark. “We’ve grown so fast that maybe these solutions have not been here yet. We’ve grown so fast that maybe these solutions have not been here yet so these things take time to develop.”

“The more and better affordable options we have on Hilton Head island and in Bluffton, the better it is for our hospital and for our community.”

A community that is served by folks who want to be here, no matter how long it takes.

Have you seen some folks leave because of it?
“Not really,” said Annette. “They carpool, they take the bus, they do what it takes to come to work.”

Clark says the hospital still plans to expand their emergency room and cardiovascular services in the next few years. He knows it could cost more in salaries to do so.

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