Public Health seeks leeway finding nurses

SUBLETTE COUNTY – As the manager of Sublette County Public Health, Janna Lee asked county commissioners at their Nov. 7 meeting if they would approve a different employment model than traditionally hiring a full-time nurse to staff its clinic.

The state pays 65 percent and the county funds 35 percent of the Public Health Office’s employee budget, Lee said, and the county’s nurse position has been unfilled since May.

“We have not been able to fill our nursing position, she told commissioners Doug Vickrey, Tom Noble, chair Sam White, Mack Bradley and Dave Stephens. Lee said a couple of nurses responded to advertising and had interviews “but they won’t take it – for the pay.”

The state-county position averages out to $36 an hour and benefits, Lee said, and nurses are being paid $45 to $50 an hour.

She proposed using the county’s 35-percent funding share to hire a nurse “per diem”

Instead, which some other counties have turned to. A couple of part-time nurses helped with flu and COVID vaccines but that money is gone “but we need to cover” other functions required of state’s 65-percent program funding.

Noble asked Lee how busy the office is currently.

“We gave 1,100 vaccines last month alone,” Lee said, with drive-throughs about the only way to pull that off. She has tried to keep up with mandated functions but needs some help “to cover our clinics,” she said.

The county would pay the same amount as budgeted, just with a different kind of employee – “One might work up to 20 hours a week during the school year,” Lee said. “Other counties have had open positions for two years.”

Commissioners approved the change for Lee to seek a per diem nurse.

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