(Host) The state’s largest hospital is launching an intensive campaign to recruit and retain nurses. Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington announced Friday that it intends to hire 100 nurses in 100 days. The program includes financial incentives for new nurses and a greater effort to retain nurses who already work for the hospital.
The “100 Nurses – 100 Days” campaign is in response to a nursing shortage at the hospital. Fletcher Allen has openings for the equivalent of 116 nurses and relies on temporary or “traveling” nurses to fill out their staff. Mary Botter is the chief nursing officer at Fletcher Allen:
(Botter) “And while we’re very pleased, of course, to have access to these traveling nurses, that’s a very expensive option for our organization and it’s not our first choice.”
(Host) Botter says the hospital currently spends $3 million a year on traveling nurses, but the new incentives and advertising to hire permanent employees for those positions will cost only one million dollars.
The recruiting and retention campaign was announced jointly by representatives from Fletcher Allen and the nurses’ union. Amid a national nursing shortage, the union has been active in negotiating for lower patient-nurse ratios and bigger compensation packages for nurses. Jen Henry represents the nurses’ union:
(Henry) “Improvements to those areas are what draw nurses to those hospitals. So while some hospitals appear not to be affected by the nursing shortage and other are, Fetcher Allen should be one of the places where providers of all types – health care workers of all types – want to come and work.”
(Host) The incentives for nurses include increased education stipends, signing bonuses and more involvement in decision-making. Fletcher Allen officials say there are a number of licensed nurses in Vermont who are not currently working at hospitals. The hospital hopes its advertising campaign and direct mail notices will lure those nurses to work at Fletcher Allen.