Nurses claim travel nurses are “contributing to problems” for Alabama staffing nurses

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 7:22 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Governor Kay Ivey has approved the use of over $12 million dollars to get nurses outside of the state to help Alabama hospitals with their staffing problem. The money will help with temporary hires of travel nurses but some nurses say the travel nurses are also contributing to problems for regular staff nurses.

Travel nurses go from state to state to work and they get paid at a higher rate than staff nurses and that is creating a problem for those who work along side of those travel nurses.

A retired nurse who doesn’t want her identity revealed said she fully understands the stress of being understaffed while providing care for mostly COVID patients.

“Nurses are extremely stressed out. Overworked. Short handed and on top of that is the pay thing,” the retired nurse said

The Alabama Nurses Association said states nurses are paid 8% below neighboring states. But the travel nurses who are temporarily hired by hospitals are paid much more than staff nurses.

“Nurses are working next to a travel nurse who makes three times the money they make and that lies in the problem,” the retired nurse said.

Alabama nurses make about an average of $27-$28 an hour or about $60,000 dollars. Travel nurses are closer to over $100 an hour for more than a $100,000 in salary.

“We are thankful for those nurses but some times they are helping to supplement our staffing but one thing we do know they are getting paid sometimes two and three times more,” Dr. Lindsey Harris with the Alabama Nurses Association said.

The nursing association and the retired nurse both say hospitals have to address the pay issue or the stress of understaffing will become a threat.

“It’s our license that is on the line being that overworked and that stressed out. It’s not only dangerous for our license. It’s dangerous to the patients.” The retired nurse said.

The money allocated last week by Governor Kay Ivey from the CARES Act is aimed at bringing on temporary staffing including travel nurses during the pandemic. Finding funding for additional funding for UAB and their regular nursing staffing is left up to UAB and other hospitals.

Dr. Don Williamson with the Alabama Hospital Association said he doesn’t know of any other sources of funding to solve the problem.

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