NORWICH – A nationwide shortage of nurses has hit the county’s Public Health department hard. Five have left for higher-paying nursing positions elsewhere, and one of the vacancies has remained open all year.
Chenango County and the nurses union recently ratified a contract that raised the base rate from $16.50 to $19.50 an hour. Department director Marcus Flindt told lawmakers in committee last month that the increase should help with advertising efforts, but that the county’s pay rate is in the medium to low range when compared to other institutions.
Chenango Memorial Hospital’s base pay rate for a registered nurse is comparable, a spokesperson said.
Flindt said he wasn’t sure that all five positions would need to be filled, however. The department will be conducting an audit to determine whether the distribution of referrals has been equitable among staff. The current staff “is not turning away business,” and is in “a lull with referrals,” he said.
“It’s tough to give you people if you’re not having problems,” Committee Chairman Jeffrey B. Blanchard, R-Pitcher, said. The committee gave Flindt the permission to refill three positions plus a supervising nurse...