'No way rural hospitals can afford to pay that': Many hospitals raising travel nurse pay amid COVID-19 surges

Hospitals across the U.S. are competing for nurses amid the pandemic, with some significantly raising wages to secure staff, reports The Dallas Morning News.

In Sioux Falls, S.D., nurses can make more than $6,200 a week, and a job in Fargo, N.D., offered more than $8,000 a week, according to posts cited by the publication. 

"That is a huge threat," said Angelina Salazar, CEO of Grand Junction, Colo.-based Western Healthcare Alliance, a regional network of 29 small hospitals in Colorado and Utah. "There's no way rural hospitals can afford to pay that kind of salary."

Some hospitals are paying exorbitant wages to secure nurses, which may shift the supply of nurses toward more affluent areas, leaving rural and urban public hospitals short-staffed. 

Overland Park, Kan.-based Krucial Staffing, which sends healthcare workers to disaster locations, has a base rate of $95 an hour, CEO Brian Cleary said. 

"Right now, we're at our highest volume we've been," said Mr. Cleary, noting that some nurses working overtime are making around $10,000 a week. However, the high-paying job doesn't come with health insurance.

Amber Hazard, RN, began as a traveling ICU nurse before the pandemic and said large wages during the pandemic come with a hidden price. "How your soul is affected by this is nothing you can put a price on," she said.

 

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