Mississippi hospital CNOs plea for state help amid staffing shortages

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Chief nursing officers from more than 30 Mississippi hospitals sent a letter to Gov. Tate Reeves and other state leaders to notify them of forecasted bed capacity shortfalls and plea for state help in maintaining nursing staff, according to Mississippi Today.

In the Nov. 5 letter, which was shared with Becker's Hospital Review, the CNOs said they are predicting that staff shortages will result in closing more than 500 acute care hospital beds over the upcoming months.

"The shortage is driven by losses in the nursing workforce which are attributable to burnout, fatigue and, to a growing extent, nurses who took travel nursing positions and made significantly higher wages and now desire to take time off," the executives wrote. "While the travel nurses were needed in various parts of the country over the last several months, the exorbitantly high rates which were heavily subsidized by federal dollars resulted in travel nurses being paid so much that they can now afford to not return to work." 

The CNOs also asked state leaders to set aside a portion of the federal funds the state received for a program to incent healthcare workers, particularly nurses, to remain in and return to their hospitals.

"Our hospitals are doing their best, but their funds are also limited, and the costs of labor has increased significantly. Such a program would demonstrate your commitment to and appreciation of those workers who have taken care of all of us during the pandemic," the letter reads.

The plea from CNOs comes after the contracts for hundreds of nurses at Mississippi hospitals expired Oct. 31.

Mississippi Today reported that the governor said he would continue talking with lawmakers about creating a retention program, but he has also talked about educating more future nurses. 

The governor's office did not respond to requests for comment from Mississippi Today on a possible bonus or retention program. 

Read the full Mississippi Today report here.

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