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DENVER (KDVR) — Some of the largest hospital systems in Colorado are working to address staffing challenges in a post-pandemic world.

A recent report by McKinsey & Company estimated the U.S. could face a gap of up to 450,000 nurses by 2025.

“It has definitely been challenging,” said Katherine Howell, chief nursing executive for UCHealth and chief nursing officer for University of Colorado Hospital.

Howell said it is the most significant shortage she has seen in her four-decade career and it’s a problem that could ultimately impact patient care.

“We should care because it affects access to care, because beds will close or we won’t be able to staff new beds when needed,” Howell said.

McKinsey & Company also published a survey that showed almost 30% of nurses indicated they are likely to leave nursing. In order to retain their staff, large healthcare companies like UCHealth have been forced to evolve.

“Looking differently at how we do things,” Howell said.

Howell said that could mean adding new roles to support nurses. Her team recently added a patient technology technician to take care of technology troubleshooting. They also added a virtual wound care assistant to help streamline bedside care.

UCHeath also recently created a new program dedicated to supporting weekend and night nurses when managers and educators are typically not around.

HealthONE, which runs large metro area hospitals like Sky Ridge, Rose and Swedish Medical Centers, told FOX31 they’ve added hiring bonuses to attract new nurses. As part of a statement, a spokesperson said:

“In an effort to ensure our HealthONE hospitals meet community demand we have instituted hiring bonuses, incentive and shift differential pay strategies, continue to work with national sourcing partners to bring necessary traveler nurses into the market to assist, and have developed contingency staffing models to address any future surge staffing needs.”