News

Sinnissippi Centers grapples with behavioral health worker shortage

DIXON – Sinnissippi Centers is looking to expand its behavioral health workforce, but like so many other industries, there’s a shortage of workers.

It’s estimated that the U.S. will need to hire 2.3 million new health care workers by 2025, Sinnissippi President/CEO Patrick Phelan said in a news release, and an aging population, a rise in chronic diseases and increased behavioral health conditions contribute to the need to plan for a workforce that can meet current and future demands.

“We are facing unprecedented workforce challenges,” Phelan said. “While we are meeting needs right now, we find ourselves at a crossroads of finally having more financial resources to expand our services, but now we don’t have the staffing to fill all the areas that we need to.”

Sinnissippi currently has 28 openings across several positions.

“May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s a wonderful thing that we have seen an increased awareness of the need for mental wellness and the need for behavioral healthcare treatment; that is a huge success,” Phelan said. “But that also means we are seeing an increasing demand for our services as well, so it’s crucial to try and build up our workforce to meet that demand as soon as we can.”

Sinnissippi Centers served more than 7,000 clients during the last year, a number that was less than 6,000 a couple years ago and around 5,000 a few years prior to that.

“Sinnissippi Centers has already seen some incredible growth in the last few years, with an increase in our total employee count that is more than 50%,” he said. “However, the demand is increasing at a level that far surpasses the supply of applicants. A lack of psychiatrists and master’s level clinicians has been a growing reality for us for some time. The new reality is that we are facing increased competition for employees at all levels. Many industries are implementing dramatic salary increases, and we have attempted to keep pace.”

Sinnissippi has been providing care to community members across Carroll, Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties since 1966.

“We are also trying to address the needs of our clients through the implementation of different levels of care, which often involve much smaller caseloads. We are also doing a great deal of outreach work, especially in the schools, and this has put a strain on our resources to meet that need,” Phelan said. “We hope that part of the answer for us will be the desire, especially among those new to the field, to have careers that are meaningful and provide a sense of fulfillment, which this type of work definitely does.”

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.