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AUSTIN — The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced Tuesday that it will increase the salaries and starting pay at state hospitals and state-supported living centers to help with crucial staffing needs, maintain competitive wages and bring hospital beds back online.

“Increasing starting salaries will bolster HHSC’s recruitment and hiring of prospective employees, help us get fully staffed and serve more people in need,” said Scott Schalchlin, deputy executive commissioner for HHSC’s Health and Specialty Care System, in a statement. ”We are incredibly grateful for the hard work and dedication of our current staff, and we look forward to continuing to grow our teams with qualified and compassionate health care professionals who share our commitment to support the patients at our state hospitals and the residents at our state-supported living centers.” 

State-supported living centers provide residential services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, while state hospitals provide inpatient psychiatric care for adults, children and adolescents. 

More than 700 state hospital beds are offline due to workforce challenges. Increasing starting salaries at state hospitals will help recruit and attract health care workers, reduce vacancies and bring more beds back online, HHSC officials said.

Effective March 1, approximately 7,855 full-time positions at state hospitals and 11,794 at state-supported living centers will receive salary increases. The $148 million in salary increases is in addition to other financial incentives HHSC offered staff to increase recruitment and retention last year, officials said.

HHSC is looking to fill approximately 1,805 vacancies in state hospitals and 2,137 in state-supported living centers by offering higher starting salaries. 

The salary increase will allow for a registered nurse with three years’ experience to receive as high as $90,000 per year. Psychiatric nursing assistants and direct support professionals would start between $17.50 and $21 an hour, depending on experience. Food service workers start as high as $13.94 an hour, HHSC officials said. 

“Maintaining a highly skilled, well-trained health care workforce is critical to providing quality health care and increasing access for Texans across our state,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. “By increasing salaries and wages to be more competitive, HHSC is addressing critical staffing needs and bringing more hospital beds back online.”

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