Local districts continue to see school nurse shortage


ROTTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – As a nationwide shortage of nurses continues, local school districts have been impacted by a lack of available personnel. At Mohonasen, the district is temporarily contracting out to fill nursing positions.

“It’s been a bit of a struggle. In the last two years, I think we’ve gone out for either nurse or HOA positions four times. We have gotten from zero applicants to a maximum of three applicants,” Shannon Shine, Mohonasen’s superintendent, explained.

Shine believes salary is a major contributor in the shortage of school nurses not just at Mohonasen, but in other places. The district currently offers nurses a salary that’s 65% of what teachers make.

“We’re actually looking forward to negotiating with the teacher’s union to increase that percentage,” the superintendent said, saying that they’re in the beginning stages of discussions.

But negotiations could take months, and the district has had stretched resources since two nurses left. While state law requires a nurse per school, Mohonasen has two in each building.

“We were actually covering without it, but it left us too thin and we’re not willing to roll the dice on something like that, it’s too important,” said Shine.

To fill the void, the district is looking to enter an agreement with Nursecore, “It’s an extremely important resource for us to be here for those school districts. There’s just not enough nurses to provide for all of the school districts,” said Laura Stoddard, the branch manager in Albany.

As the nationwide shortage of nurses continues impacting various different facilities, Stoddard has seen an uptick in requests to contract out to them.

While this can provide temporary relief to places like Mohonasen, Shine says his biggest concern is with continuity, “You’re a temp that’s assigned to the building, that’s not the same level of ownership as, I’m the Draper nurse, I’m the Pinewood nurse.”

Shine doesn’t anticipate the contracting to be a long-term solution to the pinch in nursing staff.

Stoddard, meanwhile, says one of Nursecore’s priorities is continuity, especially in settings like schools, “You have caregivers who live in their communities, providing care in their communities. We really always are looking for that perfect fit.”

The district will also foot a higher upfront cost for these contracted nurses. A proposed contract that was set to be introduced at Monday’s board of education meeting lays the groundwork for an agreement to pay RN’s $64.95 an hour and LPN’s $48.95 an hour.

While this cost equals hundreds of dollars a day for the district, Shine says it’s not unsustainable financially, as these nurses won’t receive benefits. The superintendent adds this will not force the budget to be shifted.

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