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Although the Mackay Clinic has been closed for months for varied reasons, Lost Rivers Medical Center CEO Brad Huerta said the main issue is finding a medical provider to work at the facility.

The previous provider left in October for a new job, Huerta said. Also last fall, construction workers were finishing up the clinic’s remodeling project, he said. The clinic had closed at the end of summer for the renovations, but hasn’t been able to reopen.

“Health care is not immune to the job market,” Huerta said. “We were all set to open in the fall when we lost our provider.”

Finding qualified health care providers willing to work for Lost Rivers has always been difficult, Huerta said, at both the Mackay Clinic and the main Arco campus. But it’s become more difficult now the COVID-19 pandemic has existed for two years. Because of the ever-changing nature of the virus, its variants and the stress it puts on people who work in the medical field, Huerta said fewer people are interested in working at any health care job.

“Everything from housekeepers to brain surgeons” are hard to find, Huerta said.

Another reason the clinic has remained closed was to allow employees to consolidate personal protective equipment at the Arco clinic, hospital and lab, Huerta said. With the highly infectious delta variant in the air, and the omicron variant confirmed in Idaho, Huerta wants to keep the Arco site stocked up on supplies.

Huerta said since the previous provider in Mackay left, Lost Rivers has been advertising for a new doctor or nurse practitioner. Once they hire someone, Huerta said they’ll reopen the refurbished clinic. The remodeling project was part of an effort to make the clinic safer for patients, Huerta said. The new hardwood floors are less likely to play host to viruses than the clinic’s old carpet, he said.

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