Bedford officials approve incentives to address nurse shortage


Officials in Bedford County are addressing a national shortage of nurses in nursing homes. Monday night the board of supervisors approved a list of incentives to get more people to apply for a number of open jobs.

The Bedford County Nursing Home is run by the county. The administrator says they are doing everything they can to make sure patients get the care they need, but they really need to fill their shortage to make sure they are getting the best care they can before this becomes a crisis

Referral and signing bonuses, cash rewards for employee of the month and more money for working non-premium shifts. Those are the incentives approved Monday night in order to convince more nurses to come to the Bedford County Nursing home, and also help convince those already there to stay.

Workers who refer others can get up to $500 if the referred person is hired. People hired who weren’t referred can get a $500 bonus. Those who win employee of the month can get a $100 cash reward. And those who work the late and overnight shifts now get $1.25 more an hour as a shift differential.

The home’s administrator, Sue Ellen Clark says they can hire 23 nurses to help fill the need, a need their current nurses are feeling.

“It’s tough. We’re kind of rural. We’re in between Lynchburg and Roanoke so our pool of people is kind of small. And they’re not really driving in from those areas,” said Clark.

When asked if she was scared of burnout with there being a shortage, she responded, “The downside of that is that people do get tired of that and all it makes them do is want to look for another job, unfortunately.”

Clark says they don’t want people to feel their loved ones aren’t getting the adequate care they need. They currently use agencies and travel nurses to help fill the gap and keep them stable… as well as employees from different departments who step in to do what they can.

They are also building relationships with local nursing programs to try and recruit. They are working with Fast Track in Roanoke and hoping to start an on-site CNA program which would essentially feed their staff with students from that program.

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