Nursing shortage at rape crisis center reignites residency debate - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Nursing shortage at rape crisis center reignites residency debate

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - The staffing shortage at the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center has reignited the debate over residency rules for city employees.

The city came under fire after a 14-year-old rape victim could not get processed for more than a day, delaying the collection of evidence needed for prosecution. The delay resulted from a staffing shortage because nurses who chose not to move to Memphis were fired after the city council created new residency requirements. The nurses were given the opportunity to return to work with the understanding they would have a year to move to Memphis, but not all of them took it.

Memphis City Councilman Kemp Conrad says the city administration is sending mixed signals.

"We've got a director of a city division who oversees this who doesn't even live in the city of Memphis because of some loophole in the referendum. And I think it's that kind of double's that kind of hypocrisy, frankly, that infuriates our citizenry," he said.

Conrad says positions that are hard to fill should be filled by any means necessary.

But councilman Harold Collins says Memphis has the talent to staff the center.

"If we had known that, then we could have taken the necessary steps to have the licensed professionals and the persons trained to do the work of the resource center in place before we had to scramble to do something different," he said.

Conrad says the city had ample notice when Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons sent out a cautionary letter in February.

"We need to get this fixed, number one. Number two, we need to hold the people accountable who let this happen," Conrad said.

Although voters implemented the residency rule in the first place, Collins says foresight must come from the leadership."We understand that when the voters make a decision, we have to follow them. But it's also incumbent on us as leaders to see that, down the road, how it would impact us."
Councilman Jim Strickland, who's also an attorney, plans to sit down with city administrators this week to discuss the problems at the MSARC.


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