CEO Update: Workforce Shortages

CEO Update: Workforce Shortages

I just got onto an airplane for the first time since December 2019. The experience was strange at first, but after a bit seemed normal again.  While I’ve taken time off certainly in the past two plus years, nothing compares to having the opportunity to travel and experience new things.  I also believe getting out into the fresh air and away from our normal routines helps our mental health by connecting with nature.

We know it’s often difficult to step away when workforce shortages are hitting all parts of our state and county.  Did you know that nationally the CEO turnover rate is 18 – 20%?  Sounds bad right?  In Colorado, our CEO turnover rate is even higher at 28%.  When a rural hospital loses a CEO it takes 6-12 months to recruit a new CEO and future-focused strategic planning tends to stop.  Not only does this impact the facility, but it can affect the quality of care and impact the organization’s financial and operational health.  And, of course, we know that a rural hospital tends to be one of the top three employers in the community and an economic driver, therefore CEO turnover also highly impacts the community.  One way to help ensure a sustainable leadership team is through good Board Governance.  While many of our rural communities do not have the option of choosing board members, we do have the option of providing solid board governance training.  Being part of a board, especially in a rural community is a big responsibility on top of your day job and as rural leaders we can help these individuals fulfill this responsibility by providing good education.  To access board education resources, please reach out to CRHC.

In addition to CEO turnover, we are experiencing a huge shortage of nurses.  Many of rural facilities are having to contract with traveling nurses with a wide variation in costs from $175 to over $200 hour, which is not financially sustainable.

Currently, 32% of nurses in Colorado are age 55+, while over 4,500 active registered nurses in the state are 65+.  Within the next ten years, 2,000 nurses are expected to retire, which will make the situation even more dire.  With Colorado’s forecasted population growth, the state would need 3,300 new nurses annually.  The Colorado General Assembly this year passed a workforce bill which will hopefully contribute a positive change to getting more nurses through school and out into our rural communities.  See the bill and CRHCs efforts below and if you’d like to get involved in CRHCs Policy and Legislative Committee please reach out to Kelly Erb, Associate Director of Policy and Advocacy at

SB22-226 Programs To Support Health-care Workforce

  • Bill appropriates $61 million for programs supporting the education, training, recruitment and retention of healthcare workers:
    • Health Care Workforce Resilience and Retention Program
    • Practice-Based Health Education Grant Program
    • School Nurse Grant Program
    • Reengagement initiative
    • In-Demand Short-Term Health Care Credentials Program
    • The bill requires that CDPHE work with the OIT to determine data-sharing agreements that integrate state data in order to analyze demand, allocate resources, and evaluate the performance of state-administered and financed health care workforce initiatives
  • CRHC Active Support Position
  • CRHC Policy Priority: Workforce
  • CRHC Policy Activities: Engaged in initial policy development, testified in committee hearings, lobbied both chambers, secured amendment to add MA’s to high-priority professions for student financial support


To help support your workforce needs, CRHC offers the Colorado Provider Recruitment and Retention (CPR) program. This program partners with rural communities to expand the primary care workforce by providing resources for recruiting providers who are passionate in serving the safety-net population with a rural facility that meets their personal and professional needs in order to have the best opportunity to retain them for the long-term.  The CPR program has maintained a five-year retention rate of 61%.  These services are provided to CRHC member healthcare facilities without an additional fee.  For more information please reach out to Sara Leahy at

As we head into this long holiday weekend and while we are experiencing more demands on our time due to workforce shortages, I hope you are encouraged and take advantage of time off to fill your bucket full of joy and new experiences.


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