TORRINGTON – The Goshen County Commission convened on Tuesday morning to discuss the nursing situation in the sheriff’s office.
Commissioner Cody Cox was absent from the meeting but communicated via telephone.
Lieutenant Wesley Deen of the Goshen County Sheriff’s Department presented the commissioners with an issue on finding a new full-time nurse. The current nurse, who was originally brought on as a short-term replacement two years ago, is looking to retire. The sheriff’s office has learned many people do not think the wage fits the demands of the job.
“This position is very tedious,” Deen said.
Deen told the commissioners this position differed from a nurse at Public Health because their nurses are expected to be on-call at all times every day, as opposed to working a Monday through Friday work week with regularly scheduled hours. There are two part-time nurses to assist a few days a month which leaves the rest of the work to the full-time nurse. Last month, 25 of the 31 days were worked by the full-time nurse.
Deen also said the average starting pay for nurses at most hospitals is 28 dollars an hour and 34 dollars an hour for nurses who work for 10 years or more. This is about seven dollars more than what the sheriff’s office pays its full-time nurse. Deen said he doesn’t want to raise the position to 34 dollars, but he does think the current wage should be increased.
“What I’m asking for is a six dollar an hour raise for a full-time nurse for the detention center,” Deen said.
According to Goshen County Sheriff Kory Fleenor, the office has been struggling to fill deputy and control clerk positions because of the low wages. Now they are facing the same difficulty to find a full-time nurse.
“We can’t hire nursing staff to provide medical care for the inmates because they can go to Banner [Health] and make five to ten dollars an hour more than we can provide,” Fleener said.
Commissioner Cox asked if Banner Health could work with the sheriff’s office to lend out nurses. Sheriff Fleenor said there has always been a full-time nurse and there hasn’t been a need to look at alternative options until now.
Deen said the current nurse is willing to continue working for now until a full-time replacement is found.
Ted Church, M.D. of Goshen County Public Health updated the commissioners on COVID in the area. Church said the county is in much better shape compared to a year and a half ago with much lower death and hospitalization rates.
Church also added Goshen County ranks toward the bottom of the state in vaccinations at 29%. Public Health is still offering walk-in vaccinations once a week.
In other business, the commissioners approved a request by Dennis Simmons to close off a portion of Railway Street for the Hawk Springs Street Dance on Aug. 28 from noon to midnight.
The next Commissioner meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 7 at 9 a.m. in the Goshen County Courthouse.