Archive for Friday, April 20, 2012

State hospitals reporting struggles because of low pay, long hours, early retirement incentives

April 20, 2012


— Low pay, long hours, dangerous working conditions and Gov. Sam Brownback's voluntary retirement incentive program for state employees have led to major staffing problems at state hospitals, a report aired Friday said.

"We need to keep reviewing what is happening," said state Rep. Jerry Henry, D-Cummings. "I hope the governor gets the message," he said.

The House Appropriations Committee was briefed by legislative staff on issues at state hospitals in preparation for the budget battle awaiting legislators when the session reconvenes Wednesday.

The report said Larned State Hospital, which houses the sexual predator treatment program, is so under-staffed that it could lose accreditation from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, which would mean the loss of $14.5 million in federal funds to the state.

The current vacancy rate for physicians is 45.8 percent; registered nurses, 27 percent; and licensed practical nurses, 44 percent.

Pay for physicians and nurses is below what is being paid in surrounding areas, the report said. Meanwhile, to cope with the high job vacancy rate, overtime wages at Larned increased 723 percent from February 2011 to last February.

Last fall, Osawatomie State Hospital and Rainbow Mental Health Facility lost 20 employees due to the voluntary retirement program and were allowed to fill two of the vacated positions. Both hospitals have struggled to hire and keep nurses because salaries are not competitive.

Parsons State Hospital lost 18 positions due to the retirement program and has kept open 31 more positions in the face of state budget constraints. Meanwhile, the Parsons State Hospital overtime rate has jumped 114 percent.

The hospitals all report that low salary and long hours are making it difficult to recruit and retain staff.

Osawatomie and Rainbow report that 11 staff members are off work because of work-related injuries, and they have 12 mental health technician vacancies.

Last year, the Brownback administration launched an early retirement program, offering health insurance benefits and one-time payment incentives to reduce the state's workforce. The administration said more than 1,000 employees took advantage of the program and that it would save $34.5 million over two years.


question4u 6 years ago

"The hospitals also have reported that low salary and long hours are making it difficult to recruit and retain staff."

This should make Marc Rhoades very happy.

Michael LoBurgio 6 years ago

Private prisons is what brownback, koch boys and alec are shooting for!

Michael LoBurgio 6 years ago

Teapartys are reserved for little girls!

Michael LoBurgio 6 years ago

Barry Goldwater On Christians And Compromise

Wise words about the future (now the present) from “Mr. Conservative”.

“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”

~ Barry Goldwater, November 1994

cabocrazed 6 years ago

But nothing wrong with a sitting President appointing a card-carrying Communist to position in the White House?

Loyalty oaths? So what. Radical left Demorats are just as bad. They are just as violent as any other group. Don't remember the late 60's much, do you.

Any party that swings extremely to the left or right is inherently dangerous. Give me a moderate who is willing to compromise any day.

Drink some more liberal Kool-aid. Have a good day.

deec 6 years ago

He's probably referring to Allen West's recent attempt to revive McCarthyism, West stated 79-81 members of Congress communists. We knew they longed for the good old days of the '50's. I guess "terrorist" has lost its panache.

cabocrazed 6 years ago

Ever heard of Barack Obama and Van Jones? Look it up.

deec 6 years ago

Nope, never have. But then I don't spend every waking moment obsessing over Obama or communism.. There is neither a religious test, nor a political party test, to hold a government job. And we sure don't mind the communist Chinese when they are making all the stuff we buy, and increasingly, the food we eat. We don't mind the Reds as long as they are buying our debt and keeping the economy from collapsing. We turn the other political cheek when we want to sell the communists stuff. The 50's are over; terrorist is the new boogie man.

patkindle 6 years ago

The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are out numbered by the people that vote for a living.

Centerville 6 years ago

Gotland, You're right - they have no idea what fascism really is - as the 'government knows best' comments prove.

Kate Rogge 6 years ago

It's all part of Governor Brownback's (ALEC's) plans to privatize public medical and educational services. First you underfund them, then you do everything you can to strip them of employees, and then you announce that it would all run so much better and cheaper if we just contracted with a private firm... We didn't know what we were getting with Brownback (although, perhaps, we should have looked more closely), but we sure as heck know now. He's part of that new breed of "radical Republicans" of whom Paul Weyrich spoke - "We are different from previous generations of conservatives... We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure of this country." – Soloma, John. Ominous Politics: The New Conservative Labyrinth (1984). They've got the money and an agenda they're working in every state in this country. It's high time we all paid attention.

7texdude 6 years ago

It stinks that a very important article like this one gets buried in a political debate. I thought every politician, regardless of party and faith, is supposed to work for the public. This is clearly not the case here. Our slipping hospitals is a tremendous concern and losing $14 million in federal aid is even worse. How would we replace this revenue? Close the hospitals?

When one of the sex offenders who is "under treatment" gets out and rapes your daughter or your mother or your wife, remember this article. If one of your relatives dies on the operating table, remember this article.

I don't give a crap who you vote for or why, but how can you not be worried about state hospitals after reading this?

Ken Lassman 6 years ago

Thank you, 7tex. I've talked to folks who work at Osawatomie and Larned and they are just laying low, trying to not get hurt while racking up enough mandatory overtime to be able to get out of there. It is not a pretty picture for either the staff or for the folks who live there. I don't think that the situation is nearly as dire at KNI and Parsons, but the mental hospitals are a shame to the state and those who cut off the administrative/executive wings of these places and threw in neophyte ideologues to tow the line should be held accountable. If Brownback's intent is to run down the institutions and then privatize, then every Kansan should be outraged and do everything they can do to stop it. If that is not the intent, then every Kansan should be outraged and do everything they can do to find a better way to do more with less instead of doing a whole lot less with maybe less, maybe more. I cannot see the wisdom of paying a few overworked staff lots of overtime for inferior supports instead of paying more folks for decent supports.

verity 6 years ago

How we treat those who can't speak for or defend themselves defines what we are.

pace 6 years ago

Governor Brownackb back seems very democratic about sending all possible special populations back to the community and into the job market. KNI,( persons if returned to the general community service, will drain those service, basically ending community programs for the ones they can serve, and now "the sexual predator treatment program". Both reductions of infrastructure should reduce population pressure through death, one way or another.

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