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Some Washington hospitals battle burnout among staff with $1,000 bonuses

Every employee at Providence and MultiCare hospitals in Washington will get a $1,000 bonus this fall. Some hospitals are also offering other wellness resources.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Providence Southwest Washington Chief Executive Darin Goss does not know how many of his employees have quit during the pandemic, but it’s been at a higher rate than the hospitals ever saw before the virus hit.

“We have seen burnout here,” said Goss.

To combat the turnover, Goss said Providence has taken steps to make the network of hospitals and medical offices in Washington a better place to work.

Every employee is getting a $1,000 bonus this fall, new hires can qualify for signing bonuses up to $20,000, and employees who refer a candidate who is hired for a position can earn up to a $7,500 bonus.

“Money plays a big role in this, but also its wellness resources,” said Goss, who said Providence is also offering better child care subsidies, more mental health counseling and additional emergency paid time off.

MultiCare Health Systems is also giving every employee below vice president levels a $1,000 bonus and all non-union employees will receive a 2.5% bump in pay.

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In addition to burnout, the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) said hospitals are dealing with what could be a 2% to 5% loss in staff because of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers.

“It is clear staffing remains constrained across the health care system and the loss of staff will have an impact on patients,” said Cassie Sauer, the WSHA CEO.

She said the job losses could delay procedures and outpatient services. 

Providence St. Peter Emergency Center Clinical Manager Arthur Edwards said the improved benefits should help with employee morale.

“I think those kinds of things do make a difference,” said Edwards, who is also a registered nurse who has filled in on nursing shifts during the pandemic.

He said supporting employees, financially and emotionally, is something that could help those trying to stay motivated. 

"We’re hitting the two-year mark here soon, when you start looking at that next wave you start seeing some people going, ‘I don’t know if this is the right place for me anymore.'"

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