The State newspaper reported the ongoing struggle for low paid health care givers in South Carolina.  Low wages, high turnover and burn-out makes life difficult for both caregiver and patient.

The turnover rate among nursing staff at the S.C. Department of Mental Health — which operates hospitals, nursing homes and community mental health centers — was 22 percent in the state’s fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the agency because the pay for those workers lags behind the private sector. The annual average salary for a registered nurse in South Carolina is $61,110, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the average salary for registered nurses who work for Mental Health is almost $8,000 a year less — $53,504, according to the agency. Nurses at community health care centers fare even worse, averaging $49,065 a year.

 S.C. state employees – from law enforcement officers to social workers to mental health workers – are unlikely to get a pay raise this tear. In four of the last 10 years, state employees did not get a raise.  At the same time, their paychecks will shrink because they will have to pay more toward their retirement costs.

Low pay and staffing cuts have led to overworked state employees who cannot provide the care their fellow citizens need.  S.C. agencies have almost 8,000 fewer employees than two decades ago. But those fewer workers are serving almost 1 million more S.C. residents.

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