LARNED A shortage of nursing staff at Larned State Hospital has prompted facility administrators to notify a large number of employees that they will be working mandatory 48-hour weeks until further notice.
The hospital primarily serves patients who have been sent there by court order, and others with psychiatric problems that can’t be treated in their home communities. It’s also the site of the state’s sexual predator program, where sex offenders who are deemed likely to reoffend are kept after their prison sentences have been served.
The Hutchinson News reported that administrators notified the workers of the mandatory overtime in meetings Wednesday.
“We’re down 52 people,” said Angela de Rocha, spokeswoman for the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, which oversees the hospital.
The hospital has 860 employees, about 5 percent less than would be there if the hospital were fully staffed.
Some workers have left under the state’s recently announced early retirement plan, while others left for better paying jobs, de Rocha said. Some positions have remained unfilled under a state hiring freeze that recently was lifted.
“These are stressful jobs,” she said. “And there are not a lot of unemployed people in the Larned area to fill them. The Larned and Great Bend job market is a lot tighter than some places.”
De Rocha said the hospital is looking to add employees with job fairs and newspaper, TV and radio advertisements.
“We’ve taken employees from the activity therapy, psychiatric and social work departments and are asking each to work an additional eight-hour shift each week on the unit,” de Rocha said. “They can work one extra shift, or they can work two extra four-hour shifts.”
Through the mandatory overtime for the three departments, the hospital will cover the work of 22 vacant positions, de Rocha said.
“We want to stress this is not forever,” she said. “It is a stopgap measure.”