The Schneider Regional Medical Center has provided details on how it is distributing the $7,000 retention bonus negotiated by the Bryan administration and being provided to qualifying professionals in the medical field who worked for the territory's hospitals. These employees will also receive $7,000 checks in 2023 and 2024.
The first batch of funding, received on Sept. 22, totaled $2.5 million of $10 million allotted to the hospital through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, with the full amount to be distributed over the course of four years.
The Juan F. Luis Hospital received similar funding for the retention program.
Local nurses have long complained that while they worked tirelessly through the Covid-19 pandemic, nurses hired from abroad through Pafford Medical Services were earning several times their wage, a reality that frustrated the local employees, many of whom had spoken to the Consortium about the matter. Some even considered leaving their local jobs to join Pafford, realizing that travel nurses hired through the company were earning $20,000 monthly, according to help wanted flyers from Pafford.
"To ensure timely and transparent communication with our staff and community, SRMC is pleased to announce that on Thursday, September 22nd, we received $2.5M of the total $10M in ARPA funds allotted to our organization by Governor Bryan and the central Government," the hospital said in a release this week.
"This $2.5 million is the first-year installment of the total $10 million to be provided to SRMC over a four-year period. These funds are designated and restricted for specific positions that are difficult to recruit and retain and to support the Meditech Expanse project," the hospital further stated.
SRMC said that while it recognizes and understands the contributions of its employees, the money is not eligible to be divided amongst all staff. "Only a specific subset of positions within Nursing and Allied Health meets the criteria established by the Federal Treasury and provided by the Office of Management and Budget for these retention incentives," the hospital said.
SRMC said that this retention incentive is different from the Premium Pay incentive that is being rolled out for employees who worked during specified periods of the Covid-19 pandemic. "We have lobbied and will continue to lobby for all of our hardworking employees to receive the Premium Pay incentive," the hospital made known.
SRMC said it has begun issuing checks to a total of 237 employees who remained employed throughout fiscal year 2022 in Nursing and Allied Health positions that met the criteria for the retention incentive payments. These positions include the following:
"Let's welcome this as a positive thing for our organization and all of us, even if we individually were not classified to receive a payment," said SRMC CEO Tina Comissiong. "By retaining and stabilizing our organization's critical Nursing and Allied Health positions, we will be more financially viable and better prepared to afford tangible appreciation and salary increases to all our employees. And, by our colleagues in these positions receiving incentives to stay with us, we will have a stronger hospital with more permanent, committed, local staff to provide care to our community - which we may all need at any moment for ourselves or for our loved ones as it is the only hospital on island."