Daily US Times: The coronavirus pandemic has created a nurse crisis in the US that is forcing many hospitals to pay top dollar to get the help they need to handle the crush of patients this summer.
Health leaders say, the problem is twofold: Nurses are leaving for lucrative temporary jobs with traveling-nurse agencies that can pay $5,000 or more a week and many are quitting or retiring, exhausted or demoralized by the crisis.
Sophia Morris, a vice president at Aya Healthcare, said that the average pay for a traveling nurse has soared from roughly $1,000 to $2,000 per week before the coronavirus pandemic to $3,000 to $5,000 now.
She said Aya, San Diego-based health care staffing firm, has 48,000 openings for traveling nurses to fill.
The massive rise in pay has made it hard on US hospitals without deep enough pockets.
Laura Kelly, the governor of Kansas, lamented recently that the state’s hospitals risk being outbid for nurses by other states that pay a “fortune.”
On Wednesday, she said that several hospitals, including one in Topeka, had open beds but no nurses to staff them.
In Kansas City, Missouri, Truman Medical Centers has lost about 10 nurses to travel jobs in recent days and is looking for travelers to replace them, the CEO of the medical center Charlie Shields.
He said it is hard to compete with the travel agencies. The agencies are charging hospitals $165 to $170 an hour per nurse.