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Rock Haven

JANESVILLE—The Rock County Board is scheduled to vote Thursday on proposed pay hikes and signing bonuses for staff at the troubled Rock Haven nursing home.

The move comes in the wake of controversy over Rock Haven’s decision to lay off staff members who declined to get COVID-19 vaccinations. Rock Haven already has suffered staff shortages, but the vaccine controversy made things worse, said board member Doug Wilde, who proposed the pay hikes and other changes.

Wilde spoke Monday night to the board Staff Committee, where six of nine committee members pushed through a change that would delay the pay hikes.

The resolution also calls for hiring a consultant to investigate the work environment, climate and culture at Rock Haven, “including potential violations of the personnel ordinance and the human resources section of the administrative policy and procedure manual related to interactions between management and staff.”

Board member Russ Podzilni proposed holding off on the pay hikes and other proposed measures until the investigation is complete.

Committee members Alan Sweeney, Louis Peer, Kevin Leavy, Bob Yeomans and Mary Beaver agreed.

Podzilni argued that the proposal relies too much on compensation and that officials should hear what staff management problems exist before addressing the staff shortage.

The resolution will be presented to the board’s Health Services Committee on Wednesday and Finance Committee on Thursday before the full board meeting that night.

If the three committees disagree, then the original resolution—without Podzilni’s amendment—will be presented to the board, Corporation Counsel Richard Greenlee said.

Rock Haven staff members are among the lowest paid on the county payroll, according to the resolution.

County Administrator Josh Smith said at Monday’s meeting that the proposed pay hikes would put Rock Haven pay rates ahead of the average for private nursing homes.

Rock Haven had 40 vacancies among its certified nursing assistants as of Feb. 11, an increase of 12 over the number of vacancies Jan. 1, according to an administration memo.

The facility also has six registered nurse vacancies out of 26 such positions authorized and four vacancies among license practical nurses out of 16 authorized, the memo states.

CNAs and activity therapy assistants would see increases of between 90 cents and $1.14 per hour, leading to hourly pay of $15.32 to $19.40 an hour.

LPNs also would get raises around $1 an hour, leading to hourly pay of $23.84 to $27.37 an hour.

Registered nurses would see $1 per hour increases, leading to hourly pay of $30.06 to $40.47 per hour.

The costs of all the changes would be about $297,539 in 2021, with costs rising in 2022.