$12M reallocated to attract travel nurses to Alabama’s hospitals
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama is looking beyond its borders in hopes of finding travel nurses who can help the state’s struggling hospital system as it treats thousands of COVID-19 patients.
On Friday, Gov. Kay Ivey reallocated $12.3 million from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund to attract more nurses to the state.
“Until our vaccination rates rise and our COVID-19 hospitalization rates fall, we will need the extra support these nurses provide,” the governor stated.
“Alabama’s hospitals were already facing a nursing shortage prior to the pandemic, and after 18 months of grueling hours and emotionally draining work, the shortage has only worsened,” said the Alabama Hospital Association. “The dedicated staff who continue to care for Alabamians with COVID-19 and those in need of other hospital services are simply overwhelmed and exhausted, and it’s time to send in some reinforcement.”
Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris say the nursing shortage is Alabama’s most urgent need and the Alabama Department of Public Health is working with the hospital association to recruit more traveling nurses.
“The lack of ICU beds, negative 120 at last count, is a direct result of not having enough staff, and that’s a crisis that cannot continue,” the hospital association added.
The money, which is coming from the state’s $1.9 billion pot of federal CARES Act money, was previously obligated to other needs, the governor’s office said, “but not reimbursed among the various approved expenditures.”
“This funding comes at a crucial time and will make a tremendous difference in increasing the nursing workforce in our state,” Harris said.
Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, applauded the governor’s move. He also cautioned it won’t be a panacea.
“This is not going to meet all that demand. Several things go into this. Number one - what is the hourly rate? Well, I know a couple of weeks ago the hourly rate was $175 to $200 an hour. And how long they’ll be used,” Williamson said.
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