Supervisors set to discuss nurses, medical marijuana

June 10, 2006

James Burger, Bakersfield Californian

It's nurses today and medical marijuana on Tuesday.

The Kern County Board of Supervisors will meet to do business the first two days of this week.

On the table today, when supervisors meet at Kern Medical Center, is a $6.3 million plan to add 50 full-time nurses to the county hospital's staff.

A report from KMC Chief Executive Officer Peter Bryan states that the cost of hiring the nurses will be completely offset because the hospital will be able to cut back on the use of overtime pay and special "traveler" nurses.

Right now, the report states, Kern Medical Center is in position to hire 31 new registered nurse graduates in the next 30 days.

That represents around half of the new nurses graduating from both Cal State Bakersfield and Bakersfield College.

New incentive programs and pay raises for nurses, approved by the board, have triggered a rise in the number of new nurses choosing to take jobs at KMC, Bryan stated.

Hiring the full 50 nurses will bring Kern Medical Center closer to having the 407 full-time nurses it's supposed to have based on state staffing standards.

On Tuesday, supervisors will meet at the county administrative center and consider a new ordinance to regulate businesses that dispense medical marijuana.

Sheriff's Chief Deputy Willy Wahl, in a memo to supervisors, said there are four "dispensaries" operating in Kern County.

The Sheriff's Department is proposing strict rules that will control where such medical marijuana stores can locate -- and require them to get a permit to open.

The rules will also require the dispensaries to keep detailed records of who buys their marijuana and apply for and maintain a business license in the county.

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