Hospitals rush to fill nurse vacancies before patient volumes swell

Hospitals nationwide are rushing to fill thousands of crisis nursing positions in preparation for a major surge in COVID-19 patients over the next few weeks, reports NBC News.

To help bulk up the workforce, the government is permitting licensed healthcare professionals to practice across state lines. Some states are also turning to medical students and retired clinicians for help.

Michael Fazio, CEO of the healthcare employment agency Prime Staffing, said he's seeing about 20 times more demand for nurses than this time last year. Last week, his company placed 100 nurses in New York City, and it is still trying to fill almost 2,000 vacancies posted by hospitals within the last three weeks.

"They can't get them in fast enough. Especially in the [intensive care unit] and the [emergency department]," Mr. Fazio told NBC News. "The calls that I'm on starting at 6 in the morning every day — those are the areas the hospitals are really trying to ramp up to make sure they're ready to go."

Prime Staffing is also providing free additional services — such as private transportation to hospitals — to help protect nurses from COVID-19 and is offering them two weeks of paid sick leave. 

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