Omaha, Nebraska – America’s hospitals overwhelmed by the number of COVID-19 patients are trying to get retired nurses and doctors back to work, recruiting students and recent graduates who still do not have their licenses and offering huge salaries in a desperate attempt for alleviating staff shortages.
At a time when coronavirus cases are on the rise across the country, the number of infected patients has more than doubled in the past month to a record high of nearly 100,000, leaving medical centers and healthcare workers saturated with job.
“Nurses are under enormous pressure right now,” said Kendra McMillan, policy advisor for the American Nurses Association. “We have heard from nurses on the front line who say they have never experienced the level of burnout that we are seeing now.”
Governors in hard-hit states like Wisconsin and Nebraska are making it easier for nurses to come back from retirement, including waiving licensing and fee-paying requirements, although it can be difficult to get older staff to want to return because you would be in greater danger than many of your colleagues should you contract the virus.
Some are taking jobs that don’t involve working directly with COVID-19 patients in order to help make more staff available to be with the sick, McMillan said.
Iowa is authorizing temporary and emergency licenses for new nurses who have met state educational requirements, but have yet to take their state certification exam. Some Minnesota hospitals are offering winter internships to nursing students to augment their staff. Internships are generally offered in the summer, but this year they were canceled due to the pandemic.
Hospitals are also turning to hire nurses who often travel from other states. However, it is costly because the nation’s hospitals are competing for the same pool of nurses, which is raising salaries to as much as $ 6,200 a week, according to ads for roving nurse jobs.
There is also a high demand for doctors.
So far, the United States has reported more than 270,000 deaths from the coronavirus and 13.8 million confirmed cases. New infections are averaging more than 160,000 a day, and there are about 1,500 deaths a day, a level last seen in May, during the crisis in the New York metropolitan area.
To make room for the sickest, severely affected institutions are sending some COVID-19 patients home who would otherwise have been hospitalized. They are also canceling surgeries that are not urgent or sending adult patients who do not have COVID-19 to pediatric hospitals.