PUEBLO — The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) is offering a $14,000 sign-on bonus for nurses to work at the state’s two psychiatric hospitals in Denver and Pueblo.
The Colorado Mental Health Hospital in Pueblo is offering a signing bonus for registered nurses after the hospital leaders said the facility has suffered severe staffing shortages since the pandemic. Leora Joseph, the director of the state's Office of Civil & Forensic Mental Health, said the 516-bed psychiatric hospital is operating at a 40% vacancy rate for nurses while the demand for a bed has increased by 50% since the pandemic.
"Unfortunately we're not able to admit people into the hospital because we don't have adequate staffing. Approximately 450 people are in jail who need mental health treatment and are not able to access that treatment at the hospital because we are not staffed," she said.
Joseph said the $14,000 bonus is competitive enough to hopefully bring in more nurses to fix staffing issues. For comparison, UCHealth is offering a $10,000 bonus for certain nursing positions while Centura Health is advertising a $20,000 sign-on bonus.
Jill Marshall, the CEO of the Colorado Mental Health Hospital in Pueblo, said right now three units at the hospital are currently closed because of staffing shortages. She said the facility has relied on travel nurses to partially fill gaps in staffing.
"It would be amazing if we were fully staffed. I think it would really boost morale. Our patients would have access to nurses who aren't traveling and who aren't agency nurses," she said.
Cara Silla has worked as a nurse at the hospital for seven years. She said she remembers the struggles her team went through during the pandemic.
"We did lose a lot of staff during the pandemic, and with the staffing struggles that we've been having it leads to more staff leaving, because you know, having a staffing crisis puts more work on the nurses," she said.
CDHS said the $14,000 bonuses will be given in three payments: the first within two pay cycles, the second after 180 days, and the third after 270 days. The first 1,000 employees hired between the two state hospitals in Pueblo and Denver will receive the bonuses.
The department is also offering a $7,000 sign-on bonus for positions at its other state facilities in Aurora, Florence, Centennial, Greeley, Denver, Golden, Rifle, Grand Junction, Wheat Ridge, Monte Vista, and Brighton.
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