Ingham County paying more to fill vacant jail nurse positions

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Zachary Urbin

The Ingham County Jail is located in Mason and houses about 500 inmates. Five positions for jail nurse have been available for seven weeks.

Ingham County commissioners are hoping a pay increase will help efforts to fill open nurse positions at the jail.

The Ingham County Law and Courts Committee unanimously approved salary increases for jail nurse positions, as well as additional money for recruitment expenses at its meeting on Oct. 28. The positions had been open for weeks.

The committee approved spending an additional $10,000 on recruitment, as well as wage increases of 8%-12% for the positions.

“I’m hopeful that the salary increases will help in attracting and retaining the talent we need to make sure everyone housed in the jail is being properly cared for,” said Ingham County Commissioner Chris Trubac, D-Holt. “Frankly, the people doing this work deserve a wage that makes them want to stay and keep working with us.”

The county has been working to fill five nurse positions, and the positions had been open for seven weeks.  

The Ingham County Sheriff’s Office, health department and human resources department are developing a recruitment plan for the jobs. Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said the sheriff’s office has been in contact with the Sparrow Health System to whether it could provide services at the county jail.  

Trubac said he was encouraged by the ongoing discussion between Wriggelsworth and Sparrow.

“I’m certainly interested in exploring a relationship with Sparrow, but I will have questions about what the partnership is going to look like,” Trubac said. “Sheriff Wriggelsworth is looking into it, and I’ll be happy to hear his recommendations whenever he has more to report.”    

Commissioner Mark Polsdofer, who chairs the committee, said the possible relationship with Sparrow Health System would be beneficial.

“If we can have them providing services and not have inmates over at Sparrow Hospital, I think that would be something they would prefer as well,” said Polsdofer, D-Okemos. “If we can have access to a collection of employees to assist Ingham County, that is a win-win all the way around if those discussions continue.”

One option also being discussed is the privatization of health care in the jail. However, Polsdofer said they viewed this option as a last resort.

“We’ve been exploring all these other options as an alternative to doing any privatization,” Polsdofer said. “We are hopeful that these latest adjustments bear fruit.”

Polsdofer said it’s important for the jail to be fully staffed to provide proper care to inmates.

“When they are part of the Ingham County Jail system, we need to be able to do our best to tend to their medical needs,” Polsdofer said.

During the meeting, Wriggelsworth emphasized that employers nationwide are hiring from a limited pool of qualified medical workers.

The committee plans on revisiting the subject in three months during its quarterly update to analyze how well the initiatives succeeded.

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