Kansas hospital doing more than just raising pay to attract talent


HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – It has been more than a year and a half since the pandemic began. The Kansas economy is again booming. The unemployment rate is slightly above what it was in March 2020.

Now, Kansas employers are having a hard time filling open positions. It includes Hutchinson Regional Medical Center. However, they are working to retain employees by converting an annex building into a day care.

The plan is to increase the quality of life for many employees and staff.

“We really are trying to set ourselves apart as a hub for employment especially for nurses physicians and allied health,” said Check Welch, vice president of Hutchinson Regional Health System.

Welch said right now it has more than 30 nursing positions open and others throughout the hospital. The pandemic is weighing on many nurses.

“Many of our nurses were having to band together and take turns watching each other’s kids,” said Welch.

The day care and academy will be just 50 yards away from the hospital and the cost will depend on each employee’s salary.

“Everybody is trying to throw money at problem, and we certainly are raising our salaries, and we have some incentives come out to try to retain that staff, but at some point, you have to raise the quality of life as well,” said Welch.

Beyond wages, the hospital is working to accommodate its employees with mental health resources.

Jeremy Hill, the director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University, said Kansas has a tighter employment market with fewer people working two jobs.

“They are having opportunity to move up and that is what is going to grow our economy this next year, not the lack of employment is increased wages and people having better jobs and utilizing their skills better,” said Hill. “We always have a wage problem, and that has been our problem for the last several years wages. The national level, gone up faster than they have gone here, right, and so that’s why we had the out-migration.

Hospital officials said while this plan has been in the works for five years the pandemic exacerbated the concern for day care and other programs to help out their staff and that’s why it is happening next year.

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