COLUMBUS, MISS. (WCBI) – As Mississippi continues to see record-breaking COVID-19 numbers, the need for healthcare workers continues to be at an all-time high.
It’s why hospitals across the country, including Baptist Memorial Hospital – Golden Triangle, are offering incentives to qualified registered nurses during the hiring process.
“All nursing is at a premium right now, no matter what you’re doing,” says Baptist Memorial’s nurse recruiter Johnny Judson.
Judson is relied upon to consistently bring in top candidates to join the Baptist Memorial staff.
“I am literally in every school, nursing school, in the area, including along the Alabama boarder,” he says. “I go up to north Mississippi, south Mississippi and I go to these nursing schools and I talk to these students.”
As COVID-19 cases surge across Mississippi, Judson says the stakes are high when it comes to choosing the right people.
“There’s patient safety that’s at stake, there’s Baptist’s reputation that’s at stake and there are your people and there are my people that are at stake,” he says.
As of December 1, Baptist Memorial Hospital Golden Triangle has been staffed by close to 1200 employees. They say the nationwide shortage of healthcare workers has been going on long before the pandemic started.
“We’ve had a nursing shortage for years but the COVID-19 virus has simply made things worse,” he says.
And there are no shortcuts when it comes to finding those nurses.
“We do have certain hiring criteria that has not changed at all,” Judson says. “We put incentives in place to attract more people but we don’t lower the standards.”
Those incentives include a $5,000 signing bonus for registered nurses with at least two years of experience in addition to Baptist Memorial’s usual student loan payback program.
“That $5,000 is for our ER nurses, our critical care nurses, the medical surgical workers that work with the COVID patients,” Judson says.
Competing with other hospitals like OCH Regional Medical Center and North Mississippi Medical Center, Judson says maintaining Baptist Memorial’s reputation, high standards and relationships with area nursing programs are all key.
“There are lots of good hospitals in the area,” Judson says. “We’re not the only game in town. We’re just one of the best.”
Baptist Memorial currently has openings for nurses in their emergency room, critical care unit and progressive care, among other areas. There are also needs in their lab and environmental services.