Federal staffing mandates for nursing homes could pose a threat to Montana facilities
Susie Little Light spends about four hours every day commuting to and from her place of work. That kind of travel time would be a deal-breaker for most, but in rural Montana, it’s not unusual for essential workers to make substantial daily commutes.
Little Light is the director of human resources at Awe Kualawaache Care Center in Crow Agency, one of two nursing homes located on Montana reservations. Her work is largely focused on one of the most challenging and important roles in health care at the moment — recruitment and retention.
With demand for health care workers at an all-time high, Montana’s long-term care administrators have struggled to compete with urban hospitals for qualified health care providers in the years since the pandemic. In 2022, 11 rural nursing homes in the state closed permanently along with more than 850 long-term care beds largely due to the workforce shortage.