43 jobs to be saved at Fulton State Hospital

Marty Martin-Forman, chief operating officer of Fulton Sate Hospital, said Monday she is overjoyed to learn that more state jobs have been moved to the Fulton hospital, partially offsetting planned job losses.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we may be able to avoid layoffs at Fulton State Hospital during inpatient redesign throughout the state by the Missouri Department of Mental Health. There have been resignations and retirements to help offset the planned job losses in Fulton. We also have been able to shift some employees to other positions. The new jobs moved here from Marshall is great news for employees,” Martin-Forman said.

The 43 jobs that were scheduled to be lost have been saved at Fulton State Hospital because a mental health unit from Marshal will be transferred to Fulton.

Mark Stringer, acting director of the Missouri Division of Psychiatric Services, said the department is transferring a 24-bed developmental disability forensic unit from the Marshall Habilitation Center to Fulton.

Stringer said the developmental disability forensic unit that will be moved to Fulton will require 43 employees to operate. He said this would avoid a significant number of layoffs that had been planned in Fulton.

Stringer also said the move of the unit from Marshall to Fulton will be completed by April 15.

The Department of Mental Health is undergoing extensive realignment of facilities around the state.

The realignment includes moving 120 minimum security patients from Fulton State Hospital to other Department of Mental Health facilities around the state.

The entire three-ward minimum security Hearnes forensic unit was scheduled to be closed and many of the psychiatric aides who worked there were scheduled to lose their jobs.

“But since the developmental disability unit to be moved here is classified as minimum security, we will be able to move them into one of the three wards at Hearnes. That also saves the jobs of many psychiatric aide employees. That’s why these additional jobs were so important to us. The other two wards at Hearnes will be closed,” Martin-Forman said.

It was announced last spring that Fulton State Hospital would lose 270 jobs during a statewide realignment by the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

The department announced earlier that 50 of those jobs scheduled to be lost would be saved by moving the state’s Sexual Offender Rehabilitation Treatment Center to Fulton State Hospital, which was completed Nov. 1, 2010. The 25 high security sexual offender patients were moved to the Guhleman East area.

Another 43 jobs moved here from the Marshall Habilitation Center will mean a total of 93 of the 270 jobs have been saved. The remaining 177 job losses so far have been offset by people moving to other jobs and retirements. Martin-Forman said so far she has not been forced to issue layoff notices to employees. Many of the minimum security psychiatric aides were most vulnerable, because they would not qualify as high security psychiatric aides.

“With the closing of Hearnes, all of the psychiatric aides there were scheduled to lose their jobs, because we use security aides in Biggs and Guhleman. So there was no place for psychiatric aides to go. But moving the developmental disability unit here from Marshall means we now will have a ward where psychiatric aides can work,” Martin-Forman said.

“All of the redesign is scheduled to be completed by April 15. We have been managing our job openings very carefully. We have been hiring temporary staff. The number of layoffs will be minimal, if any. When someone quit we froze the position, because we had fewer patients to treat. The Guhleman Center had eight wards but is down to five wards. We held vacant the positions associated with patients who were transferred to another city.

We are cautiously optimistic about this spring when the redesign is complete,” Martin-Forman said.

“It’s too soon to say that all layoffs at Fulton State Hospital will be avoided. But we are extremely optimistic that we may be able to avoid them,” Martin-Forman said.

Stringer said there will be no layoffs of staff at Marshall because of the transfer. He said there are other direct-care vacancies at that facility that will be offered to staff members affected by the transfer.

“This is an appropriate programmatic move since the staff at Fulton State Hospital are extremely skilled and experienced in treating persons assigned to the Department of Mental Health by the courts,” Stringer said.

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