Lewis County Health System offering nurses raises and bonuses

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 3:34 PM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - Raises and bonuses - some as high as $15,000 - are coming to Lewis County Health System in an effort to retain and recruit nurses.

“We are investing a million dollars on our team,” said Lewis County Health System Chief Executive Officer Gerald Cayer.

For months, Lewis County Health System has struggled with staffing.

To keep current nurses and attract new ones the hospital is divvying the million three ways.

“The first is to say thank you to those folks who have stayed with us, toughed it out through the pandemic,” said Cayer.

They’ll get bonuses using half of the million.

“The other initiative we have is the crisis pay bonus,” said Cayer.

Nurses working overtime will get as much as 40 extra dollars per hour to encourage them to fill empty shifts.

“And the third is a recruitment bonus. We’re targeting key RN positions in maternity, the emergency department, medical surgical, and the ICU,” said Cayer.

A sign-on bonus for these nurses is between $10,000 and $15,000.

“I have folks who say, ‘How are you doing it; how can you afford to do it?’ I would say, we can’t afford not to do it,” said Cayer.

The hospital is relying on travel nurses right now and they’re not cheap.

Lewis County native Erika Eddy has been a travel nurse for two years. She says demand is so high right now rates are upwards of $7,000 per week.

“Whatever rate is best is where I go, especially with COVID, the med-surge ICUs. Those more specialized fields are getting paid a lot more,” she said.

“We have to get off that diet of using travelers. That’s where the money is going. We’re bringing in the calculus, and at any level of success, we’re shifting that money from travel nurses to the men and women who live and work in Lewis County,” said Cayer.

He says the retention bonuses and crisis pay will be given over a 6 week period and the sign-on bonuses will last until about 20 nurse roles are filled.

“This is the priority. It’s really that simple and it’s stepping back to say we have to do it differently, let’s do it differently,” said Cayer.

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