Nurses offered signing bonus

Fulton County officials on Friday sweetened compensation packages in an attempt to attract nurses to

Fulton County officials on Friday sweetened compensation packages in an attempt to attract nurses to work at the county’s Residential Health Care Facility.

A couple of weeks after the Board of Supervisors waived the residency rule for registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants, the supervisors’ health services committee voted Friday to approve signing bonuses for RNs. The signing bonuses for new RNs would be $2,500 each, infirmary Administrator Vera Kilgallon said.

Earlier this month the full board agreed to a couple of other enhancements, one of which was waiving the start rate for full- and part-time LPNs.

Another measure also waived the starting rate for RNs, which boosts their pay from $20.61 an hour to $22.20, Kilgallon said.

But, she said Friday, that rate is still below the median rate, which is $23.69 per hour.

The nursing home also has trouble competing for nurses because of the salary discrepancies between the county and area hospitals, which pay well, she said.

The infirmary has 13 RN positions budgeted and seven are currently vacant, four because of 2007 retirements, she said.

Recruitment efforts have been unsuccessful. There were no new hires as a result of help-wanted newspaper advertisements this month, Kilgallon said.

“We always have a problem,” said Bleecker Supervisor David Howard, the chairman of the health services committee.

By waiving the residency rule, he said, “we’re trying to broaden the base a little bit. We’re looking for quality people and unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be enough in Fulton County.”

Howard said the county is taking whatever steps it can to make the jobs more attractive to medical professionals.

“It’s been an ongoing process. The turnover isn’t as bad as it once was but there’s still some,” he said.

The signing bonus money would come from additional grant funds due to the infirmary under the Health Care Reform Action program. The infirmary was scheduled to receive about $66,000 in HCRA grant funds this year but has been notified of an increase to nearly $82,000, she said.

The proposal still has to be reviewed by supervisors’ personnel and finance committees before going to the full Board of Supervisors in February.

Categories: Schenectady County

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