COLORADO, USA — There are empty mental health beds available in two Colorado psychiatric hospitals, but the state can't fill them with patients because they don't have enough nurses on staff.
The state is offering mental health nurses a $14,000 hiring bonus to work at the psychiatric hospitals located in Fort Logan and Pueblo.
The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) said both hospitals have empty beds they can't fill because of the nursing shortage. The Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo has 82 empty beds and there are 22 available beds at the Fort Logan hospital.
CDHS cited a 2021 Mercer report that shows Colorado's nursing shortage saw a decline of more than 100,000 registered nurses from 2020 to 2021 while facing an expected 10% increase in demand for mental health nurses in five years.
"We have beds in our hospitals at a time when mental health treatment is at a very significant level," said Leora Joseph, director at the Office of Civil Forensic Mental Health at CDHS. "They could be treating Coloradans with serious mental illnesses but we are not able to admit patients into those beds because of the nursing shortage."
Colorado, along with 38 other states, belongs to the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) which allows nurses to practice in other participating states without having to obtain additional licenses.
The $14,000 hiring bonuses will be given out in three payments to the first 1,000 new employees. Find more information about the open positions on the CDHS website.
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