The Ministry of Children and Families “calls all nurses”.
The state is looking to hire nurses at the Albert J. Solnit Children’s Center. DCF-run psychiatric facilities provide long-term inpatient care for children with severe mental or behavioral disorders.
Hospital management said more nursing staff could make a big difference in children’s lives.
Marcia Cherry proved it last month.
Performing the Heimlich maneuver is a life-saving skill that Cherry, a nurse from Solnit South in Middletown, put to use in the real world last month.
“I didn’t even think about it. I just asked them to get up and started doing it,” said Cherry, a licensed practical nurse.
She was spurred into action when she saw a boy choking in the hospital cafeteria.
“One of the kids called my name and she said, ‘Miss, he’s choking,'” Cherry said.
She performed the Heimlich maneuver for about eight minutes.
“I think my instinct was to be a mom first,” she said. “I am a trained CPR first aid instructor. So I just did what I normally teach people to do.
Falling back on his training allowed him to save a life.
“When all was said and done I went to the unit to check on the child. And he ran up to me and he was like, ‘Can I please give you a hug because you saved my life,’ Cherry said. “I almost felt like crying. And then he’s like, ‘Madam, don’t cry, don’t cry.’
Stories like this explain why the DCF said nursing staff are so important at the children’s mental institution. However, Solnit South is not immune to the nursing shortage felt across the country.
“Currently our hospital is about 30 per cent short of the direct care nursing staff we need,” said Dr Nicole Taylor, director of pediatrics at Solnit South.
Today DCF is recruiting.
“We are running a campaign called ‘Calling All Nurses’ and we hope to recruit nurse positions for all shifts,” said Solnit South Superintendent Heidi Pugliese.
DCF recruits registered nurses at Solnit’s two facilities in East Windsor and Middletown, with priority on Solnit South. They hold full-time, part-time and per diem positions on all shifts.
Salaries for full-time registered nurses start at $76,000. Head nurse positions start at $86,000. The job comes with a package of benefits.
Hospital management said at the time that there was a major need to strengthen mental health care.
“Children’s mental health has been on the rise since 2000, and especially as we come out of the pandemic, the needs have increased,” Taylor said.
They say more nurses ultimately mean more children are served.
“It really prepares the kids to go back into the community,” Pugliese said.
For Cherry, the greatest reward of working as a nurse is seeing the impact she has on the children in her care.
“They will be satisfied knowing that once they can reach a child and the child connects with them, that is the rewarding part of working at Solnit. Because it’s not physical, it’s really mental and emotional,” she said.
Anyone interested in applying for an RN position with DCF can view job postings online.