In the month since the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital board of directors voted to increase the salary of registered nurses, the hospital has seen an influx of new hires, and will reach about half of the target number by the end of March, according to board chair Kye Walker.
"We see the light at the end of the tunnel," Walker said in a phone interview Thursday. Walker reported the hiring to the board at its Wednesday night meeting.
According to Walker, the hospital hopes to hire 80 in all. The first 40 are to bring the staff back up to the level needed to meet immediate needs for providing care, and will be reached by the end of March.
""It gets us where we need to be," Walker said.
According to figures supplied by hospital communications chief Xaulanda H. Simmonds-Emmanuel, JFL added 10 RNs to the staff in January. By the end of February, an additional 20 will have been hired – six are already on staff and 14 have confirmed start dates.
Another 15 potential registered nurses are in the recruitment process and are expected to be on board by the end of March.
But the total of 45 additional nurses expected to be on staff by the spring is only a little more than half of what the hospital intends, Walker said. By adding another 35 to 40, the hospital will be able to stop using traveling nurse services, which are more expensive than locally hired nurses, even at the increased pay scale, Walker said.
The board voted also voted Wednesday to increase fees for outpatient procedures by 12.5 percent, and eliminated or reduced some service contracts to help the hospital weather an expected five-percent reduction in funds from the V.I. government for the current budget which would amount to $561,256.
Walker added that the February board meeting was the first at which Dr. Kendall Griffith sat in as acting chief executive officer.
"He did an awesome job," she said.