HOPEDALE, Ill. (WMBD) – Rural hospitals are feeling the pressure of staffing struggles. Friday, 18th District Congressman Darin LaHood visited the Hopedale Medical Complex to hear from healthcare workers firsthand.

Much like larger healthcare systems, leadership at Hopedale Medical Complex said they’re facing a staffing crisis. This comes as some have left the medical field or face illness themselves.

“There’s not a lot of staff to be had right now or if you go to agency one they don’t have them, or it’s really expensive,” said Emily Whitson, Chief Operating Officer for Hopedale Medical Complex.

In some cases, Emily Whitson said staff at her hospital have been asked to work extra hours to fill the void, a decision that isn’t easy.

“I think we’re getting to that point where the mental stressors are more than we can handle or should have to handle,” Whitson said.

Whitson explained that the situation is on the verge of becoming dire.

“We’re right on the precipice of if somebody’s ill and has COVID and doesn’t have a lot of symptoms, they might have to work depending on what department they’re in,” Whitson said.

As healthcare systems face major strain, Congressman LaHood says the federal government should find ways to assist.

“We’ve looked at other sectors of society and our economy and how we helped them out, now we’re looking at how we help healthcare workers,” LaHood said. “A lot of it comes down to funds and resources. How do we look at either tax incentives or look at supplemental funding that can go to medical facilities, hospitals, nurses,” he added.

LaHood said he has introduced legislation that is focused on adding people to the nursing industry.

“Giving them the necessary resources, tax incentives, to hire more, to make sure we have robust members of people going into nursing schools,” LaHood said.