Date: January 17 2024

Contact: Jon Ebelt, Communications Director, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936, (406) 461-3757

DPHHS Announces New Hiring Incentive, Historic Pay Increases at Health Care Facilities

Effort to boost recruitment and retention at Montana’s state-run health care facilities

Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Charlie Brereton today announced one-time incentive payments and targeted, historic wage increases to recruit and retain employees at Montana’s state-run health care facilities.

The new effort is designed to reduce reliance on contracted clinical staff and demonstrates DPHHS’s continued, strong commitment to reforming and investing in the facilities that serve Montana’s most vulnerable patients.

Dir. Brereton announced the Hiring Incentive Program for direct patient care positions at all five state-run health care facilities, as well bonuses and wage reform at two facilities for existing staff working in positions with the highest vacancy rates. The pay adjustments for existing staff have been adopted following recent and successful discussions with the unions. 

“The reliance on contracted clinical staff, commonly referred to as ‘travelers’, continues to impact our budget in a way that is not sustainable, and it must be addressed,” Dir. Brereton said. “Through a new incentive program, bonuses, and historic pay increases, we aim to continue strengthening operations at our state-run health care facilities by hiring and retaining staff dedicated to providing our valued patients with safe, high-quality care. I urge anyone interested in joining our health care facilities team to visit and apply for a meaningful, impactful job with us.”

Hiring Incentive Program for new clinical staff

DPHHS will issue $7,500 incentive payments to external candidates hired into several targeted clinical positions staffed highest through contractors. Incentive payments will be made to successful candidates at the six and 12-month marks of continuous employment.

The positions include registered nurses, certified nurse aides (CNAs), direct support professionals, psychiatric technicians, and forensic mental health technicians.

The hiring incentives will apply for new employees who are hired for an eligible position at the Montana State Hospital (MSH) in Warm Springs, the Intensive Behavior Center (IBC) in Boulder, the Montana Chemical Dependency Center (MCDC) in Butte, the Montana Mental Health Nursing Care Center (MMHNCC) in Lewistown, and the Montana Veterans’ Home (MVH) in Columbia Falls.

The Eastern Montana Veterans’ Home (EMVH) in Glendive and Southwest Montana Veterans' Home (SMVH) in Butte are both privately managed and not eligible for the incentive program.

To assist applicants, DPHHS has launched a new website at site takes applicants directly to the State of Montana Careers page. It also includes a Step-by-Step document that guides individuals through the application process and details the incentive program.  

DPHHS also launched a new public awareness campaign to promote the Hiring Incentive Program, focusing on the incentive payments, exceptional state health and retirement benefits, and a chance to work in a rewarding field.

DPHHS is using $300,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to support the new Hiring Incentive Program.

Bonuses and historic wage increases for existing staff in targeted positions

With support from its union partners and in an effort to address positions experiencing the highest vacancy rates, DPHHS will also provide retention bonuses and historic hourly wage increases for registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, psychiatric technicians, forensic mental health technicians, and direct support professionals currently employed at MSH and IBC.

These employees will receive a $7,500, one-time-only retention bonus through savings from less reliance of contracted staff.

Furthermore, direct support professionals, psychiatric technicians, and forensic mental health technicians will receive a permanent $2 per hour increase in their base rate. Licensed practical nurses will receive a $1.75 per hour increase in their base rate, and registered nurses will receive a $4 per hour increase.

DPHHS is also launching a recruitment and retention workgroup focused on expanding outreach to target colleges and universities, increasing digital footprints to market open positions online, exploring options for nursing teaching site and CNA apprenticeship partnerships, improving the efficiency of interview processes, and increasing hiring and retention through other coordinated efforts.

This work also includes leveraging partnerships with relevant professional associations and recruitment firms to strategically identify and refer qualified candidates.

Additionally, DPHHS is expanding resources within its Office of Human Resources (HR) to include a new Healthcare Facilities Division (HFD) HR Manager and Recruiter. For consistency in approach to recruitment and retention strategies, all facility-based HR staff will now report to the new Helena-based HFD HR Manager.