Nurses in high demand during healthcare crisis

[anvplayer video=”5073877″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — For months, News10NBC has been investigating severe staffing shortages at our hospitals and nursing homes that are crippling the entire health care system.

So how are they getting by amid a surge of COVID cases and an influx of patients with other illnesses too?

There are currently nine thousand open positions across New York State for registered nurses. And while hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities try to recruit those in the pipeline to fill them, they also need help right now.

“One of the big things is travel nursing so, that…that has crippled the system,” says Dr. Chad Teeters, President and CEO of Noyes Health.

“I’m not a fan of travelers, says Michael Stapleton, President and CEO of Thompson health. “We can go into a three hour conversation about that but I won’t. I’d rather reward our associates who have already shown dedication, who are committed to our health system who are committed to our community.”

But the reality is, in most hospitals and nursing homes, there are just not enough nurses. So, like it or not, they have to go to outside hired help and agencies that provide traveling nurses. But with the whole country facing health care staffing shortages, even those aren’t easy to find.

“You’re also competing with not only other states but other states without mandates or without the loss of religious exemption,” says Teeters. “It takes a small pool and makes it a puddle for sure.”

That’s very expensive puddle to step-in.

“An ICU nurse this day and age probably make somewhere in the realm of $40, $50, $60 an hour maybe… and a traveling nurse you probably would’ve paid $60-$70 on a really big need several months ago. Just Monday I signed to extend to ICU travel nurses at $191 an hour and that was just a lock them in for 13 week contract!”

If you’re doing the math, that’s about one hundred grand for 13 weeks of work in Dansville.

There are no easy answers to fix the immediate problem. The state is offering incentives, such as free college tuition to those who will get into the nursing field. But those people won’t be ready for years. At the moment, these hospitals and nursing homes are trying to keep their heads above water.