CHI Health creates traveling nurses system

Omaha, Neb.-based CHI Health said it has launched an internal travel program for skilled clinicians in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and North Dakota.

"It's no secret the past two years have put a strain on hospitals across the country," the health system said in an April 12 news release shared with Becker's. "The COVID-19 pandemic made existing staffing issues worse. CHI Health, along with other hospitals, were forced to rely on third-party staffing agencies and travelers to fill gaps in the workforce."

Now the health system, which is part of Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health, is addressing its needs through a travel program for CHI Health employees and those interested in joining the organization.

The CHI Health Midwest Internal Travel Program allows nurses, technicians, pharmacists and other workers to be full-time CHI Health employees, receiving full-time pay, a traveler rate, a stipend, vacation hours, insurance and a 401(k), the health system said.

Under the program, workers would travel within CHI Health's 28 hospitals with six- to 12-week assignments, based on where the need is greatest.

Timothy Plante, division vice president of patient care at CHI Health, said the program involves one level for people who prefer to work solely in hospitals in Nebraska and southwest Iowa, and another for people willing to work at CHI Health hospitals in Minnesota and North Dakota, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

He also said CHI Health can provide staff travel nurses the same pay they would get from an agency but without having to pay staffing agency fees, according to the newspaper.

In discussing plans for the program, CHI Health CEO E.J. Kuiper told Becker's in February: "We need to make sure we have staffing available now, not just for COVID and ICU units but across the spectrum. Building out an internal [staffing program] makes sense on a number of different levels."

Mr. Plante estimated 40-50 employees are in the traveler pool.

Read the full Lincoln Journal Star story here

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