The Grady County Commissioners approved $1.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to be allocated to Grady Memorial Hospital (GMH) on Monday.
The funds will provide staffing assistance which will allow the hospital to retain employees, fill empty positions and hire two traveling nurses with 13-week contracts.
Staffing assistance is currently the hospital’s greatest need. One of the side effects of the pandemic has been a nursing shortage across the nation, Kean Spellman, GMH CEO, said.
GMH has also lost nurses and staff to larger metro hospitals, who are able to provide higher pay and bonuses. The American Rescue Plan Act Funds will enable GMH to make competitive offers to new and existing staff.
The pay for some positions has escalated during the pandemic. Traveling nurses may make as much as $150 per hour. GMH is seeking to fill five contract RN slots for $120 per hour. GMH may offer $10,000 sign-on bonuses for some existing nurses in exchange for a one-year contract to remain at GMH.
The nursing shortage at GMH has forced the hospital to close previously open inpatient beds because of a lack of funds and staff, which includes: registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists, certified nurse aids and other various support professionals.
The hospital’s financial health has been in the red since the beginning of the pandemic, Spellman said. The hospital sales tax, passed in 2016, does not cover operational costs.
Spellman said the majority of staff at GMH have been vaccinated and all doctors at GMH have been vaccinated. He noted that some hospitals have lost staff due to vaccine mandates. Spellman said that at GMH, the protocol has been to meet with staff to answer questions or address concerns about the vaccines.