YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — There are currently 723 nursing positions open on Mercy Health’s website in the state of Ohio. Recently, nurses have been coming from overseas to help with an ongoing nursing shortage.

Kristel Syra Delos Santos works her typical day shift at St. Elizabeth’s in Youngstown. She moved to the Youngstown area from the Philippines back in August of 2022.

“All of the struggles coming here are like worth it,” Delos Santos said. “It started with a dream at first and then the immigration process took like nine months of waiting but they said it would like two or three years. But my papers went very fast.”

Delos Santos is a nurse for the eighth west extension. Last year at this time, there were 14 job openings for this unit, and now it’s at four. Nurse manager Cathy Ronci owes a lot of this success to her international nurses.

“[They’re] very hardworking, driven, they’re positive, caring, I mean, but hard-working is what I can say. Like I said, they’ve jumped on to a med surge unit — that’s very high, high paced, almost like an ER-type atmosphere,” Ronci said.

“The setup is very different because United States have high-quailty of healthcare, you’re far more advanced in terms of technology, equipment, and you cater most serious cases unlike in the Philippines,” Delos Santos said.

Although it may be tough leaving friends and family back in the Philippines, she said the staff at Mercy Health is like a family.

“The support, the love, is overwhelming. I really love all of them,” Delos Santos said.

As far as her own family, her sons will be moving to the area this summer.

“Bringing my family here is also an opportunity for them to have a better education and better career when they grow up,” Delos Santos said.

Ronci says her staff has been incredible at getting the international nurses all set to provide care for the people in the Valley.