South Coast Strong

Nurses Kaitlyn Altenbach, from left, Melinda West and Chloe Gordon work July 3 at Bay Area Hospital.

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COOS BAY — Daysha Stidham, a former nursing student at Southwestern Oregon Community College, said she knew immediately following the completion her clinical experience at Bay Area Hospital that she wanted to continue her nursing career there after graduation.

“I did an internship here at Bay Area Hospital in the ICU and I really liked it,” said Stidham.

As part of her clinical experience, Stidham said she got the chance to not only get hands-on experience, but also learn directly from seasoned nurses, familiarize herself with the floor and its procedures as well as learn the ins and outs of how things run.

“I knew I needed to be on a med surg(ery) floor for at least two years so I can get experience and knowledge,” said Stidham. “I was a CNA prior to nursing school down at the post-surgical unit and I loved it there so I decided to apply for that position.”

Stidham joins a number of nurses who have graduated from the SWOCC nursing program who now work at BAH. In an effort to combat challenges with recruiting and retaining healthcare professionals in rural communities, facilities like BAH are looking to local programs as well as featuring their own to help keep well-trained, qualified professionals here.

Heather Aldrich, a registered nurse and the clinical educator at BAH, said the hospital works hard to make sure newly graduated students feel supported and happy with their positions as a way to increase their job satisfaction and stay in the area.

The Registered Nurse Bridge Program at BAH pairs nurses who have worked in an acute-care facility for less than a year with an seasoned nurse as a way to help them successfully transition into the workforce.

“The new nurses learn about patient care, the floor of their unit, how to operate equipment and the processes of the care they are providing,” said Aldrich. “Then once a month they come back for didactic training and a roundtable discussion with peers who are also in the Bridge program.”

The real benefit of a mentorship program like the Bridge program is that it supports the new staff and makes the overall transition smoother, said Aldrich.

“They are wonderful nurses we are lucky to have them,” she said. “We want to keep them here.”

Chloe Gordon, a registered nurse who moved from South Carolina, said the Bridge program at BAH was a major factor in her decision to move to Oregon and work at the hospital.

“The program stood out to me because I wanted to go somewhere I knew I would feel supported,” said Gordon. “It’s been great getting to learn from my peers.”

Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at


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