Healthcare Industry

Sarasota health care and dental industry struggle to hire

There’s a white tablecloth dinner every night of the week at Aviva Senior Living in Sarasota.

At dinnertime in the Sarasota the retirement community at 17th Street and Honore Avenue, there’s gourmet food, a professional wait staff and a dress code, meant to remind seniors in independent living of the days of formal suppers. It’s something residents look forward to, CEO Jay Solomon said – it’s an important social time of the day.

But as the local, state and national labor markets have tightened, and hiring waitstaff has become increasingly problematic for employers, offering that experience has become ever more difficult. Because of a shortage of labor, Aviva decided to close the dining room temporarily and serve people in their rooms instead as of Sept. 1. 

The labor issue at the retirement community runs much deeper than just waitstaff, however. It’s also been hard to find administrative workers, cooks, housekeepers and, most of all, nurses, Solomon said. The health care worker shortage is such a problem that even hiring temporary travel nurses through third-party agencies isn’t working, because no one is applying there either.

“This is the worst labor market that I’ve seen in the 37 years that I’ve been in health care,” Solomon said. “We have gone through a nursing shortage every 10 years, but to see a labor shortage across every department – that’s a first.”