LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) – The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone, especially people who work in health care.

As a show of gratitude for their efforts, UW La Crosse thanked Gundersen Health System staff this week with gift baskets put together by the campus community.

“We’re working hard, and just to know that the community is thinking about us and appreciating all our hard work, it means a lot,” Registered Nurse Mollie Murray said.

Murray is grateful for the gesture, as it hasn’t been easy to be a nurse in the era of COVID-19.

“The last two years have been challenging,” Murray expressed. “Just short-staffed, a lot of patients here at the hospital that need our help, so you have to adapt, and you have to adapt quick.”

For Murray, she says there’s no place she’d rather be than working at Gundersen.

However, Recruiter Kaija Towle says the hospital has had trouble retaining staff.

“A big reason is the constant changes,” Towle explained. “Even when it comes to the COVID protocols, we’re constantly having to adjust our standards and procedures to meet those needs.”

Towle says there are a higher number of openings than normal right now, and certain positions need more help than others.

“Within our food service, housekeeping, and laundry areas,” Towle detailed. “We’ve definitely had internal staff that have stepped up, and have volunteered during the pandemic to help out in those areas.”

To address those immediate needs, Gundersen will be holding a pair of on-site job fairs over the next two weeks.

Both fairs will be held at Gundersen’s Integrated Center for Education, with the first on Feb. 16, and the second on Feb. 24.

Attendees will be able to speak with recruiters, and qualified applicants for food service, housekeeping, and laundry positions have the chance to receive job offers on the spot.

Towle says Gundersen plans to be more active with its recruiting as the year continues.

“We’re definitely tossing around the ideas of doing future career fairs,” Towle said. “Even some of the local universities have started doing more career fairs, so we’ve been attending those.”

The fair on Feb. 16 will be held from 11 AM-3 PM, and the Feb. 24 event will take place from 3-6 PM.