The Governor’s suggestion to impose a hiring freeze does a great disservice to both the patients and employees at Riverview. For years, Riverview has been plagued with challenges - most of which stem from staffing issues such as high turnover. These chronic staffing shortages have resulted in employee injuries, out-of-control mandated overtime, terrible staff morale and reduced patient treatment.
The legislature decided - with broad bipartisan support - that one reasonable step toward fixing staff shortages was to address the low wages paid to direct care workers. It’s common sense that increasing wages will lead to better recruitment and retention - especially, when many of these workers can make more money at local retail shops or other area hospitals.
There is no reasonable rationale for the governor to thwart these efforts passed by the legislature. His criticism of the funding source is disingenuous because it’s the same way he funded increased pay for law enforcement in his own bill. Now, he is placing these raises in jeopardy and creating unneeded uncertainty during a precarious time for hospital staff and patients. Furthermore, imposing a hiring freeze while we’re dealing with a staff shortage is logic worthy of Alice in Wonderland.
Senator Roger Katz serves the people of Senate District 15 in the Maine State Legislature