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Salt Lake County Jail increases pay to help medical staff shortage

Woman in teal shirt wearing white mask
SJ Objio

In an attempt to help staffing shortages at the Salt Lake County Jail, the Salt Lake County Council voted on Tuesday to increase the pay rate for nurses, mental health professionals, and other medical staff.

In addition to this decision to increase pay, the council also added a $5,000 hiring bonus for medical employees who stay working at the jail for two years.

Rosie Rivera, a Salt Lake County Sheriff, says that the jail recently lost a nurse who had been working there for 23 years. The nurse ended up going to another facility for more pay. Rivera also says that the jail hasn’t been able to hire a psychiatrist for two years now. In response to the pandemic, nurses at the jail have had to respond to mental health calls because there’s not enough mental health experts readily available.

With the increase in hiring rates, Rivera hopes that the jail can compete with nearby medical centers and hospitals. But while the jail is in need of medical help in all areas, its not the only place struggling to fill these positions. Dr. Travis Mickelson, medical director for mental health integration at Intermountain Healthcare, says that there are more open positions than there are people that can fill them.

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, Utah is ranked relatively high nationwide for staffing numbers of mental health professionals. But despite this, many organizations are still struggling to fill all of their positions.

Mickelson believes that Utah is in a better state right now than what we saw before the pandemic in terms of discussing mental health and seeking care for it.

Jared Gereau is pursuing a Journalism major with an emphasis in Social Media at Utah State University. He is planning on using his experience to pursue a career with USU Athletics sometime after he graduates. In his free time, Jared enjoys watching movies, playing games and creating content for his YouTube channel.