By ERIN MAYES
With a bigger, better hospital comes the need for more employees.
Finding people nurses, secretaries, doctors and more to fill those jobs has been a mission for Sonora Regional Medical Center officials.
"Over the last year, we've probably hired an additional 70 to 80 individuals, just to deal with the volume as it's gradually been growing," said Donn Swartz, director of human resources for Sonora Community Hospital, which will be known as Sonora Regional Medical Center when it opens its new building on Greenley Road on Jan. 14.
"Overall, the core staff is pretty much here."
Between part-time, full-time and per diem, or "as needed" positions, there are 28 open jobs right now, "which is a fairly normal number that we're always seeking," Swartz said. In fact, he said, the hospital's job vacancy rate in November was 2.7 percent, which he said, "in health care is considered to be very good."
Overall, the hospital has about 870 employees, making it the fourth-largest employer in Tuolumne County, topped only by Tuolumne County schools, Tuolumne County and the State of California, according to the Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce.
SRMC's numbers are expected to continue growing because of the new services like oncology and cardiology the new center will offer.
Also, new state guidelines will change the nurse-to-patient ratio in 2005, mandating more nurses per patient, Swartz said. The ratio varies depending on the department. Right now, the hospital still needs a few more registered nurses, he said, but he's wary of what may happen when the ratios change in a year.
Registered nurses don't appear out of thin air, he emphasized, so the hospital has been doing "a variety of things" to encourage and assist people to get into and graduate from nursing programs.