12-hour shifts to start at Fulton State Hospital

Starting July 1, about half of Fulton State Hospital’s employees will be required to work 12-hour shifts instead of current 8-hour shifts.

Marty Martin-Foreman, chief operating officer at the hospital, said the change in procedure will affect from 600 to 700 of the hospital’s 1,300 employees.

Martin-Foreman said employees affected by the change to 12-hour shifts are mainly security aides and psychiatric technicians included in the direct-care staff at the state mental hospital.

“It will affect Security Aide-1 and Security Aide-2 employees but not Security Aide-3 employees and other staff members, such as registered nurses,” Martin-Foreman said.

She said several years ago, Fulton State Hospital tried flexible work hours for the direct-care staff but had to abandon that because it was too costly to the state. Not everyone participated in the program and overtime costs were excessive.

Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, pushed legislation through the Missouri General Assembly last year that prohibits the hospital from requiring employees to work more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period unless the Missouri Department of Mental Health declares a workforce shortage.

To give the hospital time to adjust its workforce, the legislation does not go into effect until July 1 of this year.

Riddle said employees who worked multiple back-to-back eight-hour shifts can cause overall poor health and slower reaction time. She said employees on duty sometimes have to stay on duty if their next-shift replacement does not show up to work.

Because the legislation is effective July 1, Martin-Foreman said the staff began to consider various scheduling options.

“Right now,” Martin-Foreman said, “we have three eight-hour shifts to cover one 24-hour day. Moving to a 12-hour schedule will mean only two shifts in one day. We have been considering this for about one year. It turns out there are a lot of advantages to 12-hour shifts to the majority of our workforce.”

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