Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityNationwide nursing shortage adding up costs for Iowa hospitals | KGAN
Close Alert

Nationwide nursing shortage adding up costs for Iowa hospitals amid pandemic

healthcare workers receive vaccine.PNG
healthcare workers receive vaccine.PNG
Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon
Comment bubble

Even though COVID-19 infection rates are dropping, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the need for nurses nationwide remains high.

The demand for nurses is driving up costs for travel nurses, according to Mercy Cedar Rapids senior vice president and chief talent officer Nancy Hill-Davis.

"Before the pandemic started, we thought those were our biggest challenges and--of course--when the pandemic hit, they were exacerbated," Hill-Davis told Iowa's News Now, Monday. "Given the shortage throughout the country, we often had to rely on supplemental staff in the form of those traveling nurses that we used."

Mercy Cedar Rapids pays up to $120 an hour for traveling nurses, costing the hospital millions in 2020.

"Why is it so high? I think because the demand is significant and high," Hill-Davis added. "And with the demand being so high--that then pushed the rate up. We felt like we were in a bidding war with other organizations."

Traveling nurses accounts for less than 3% of Mercy's staff.

The hospital was reimbursed through CARES Act funding and received helped from the more than100 travel nurses the State sent out in 2020.

"We don't pass off those staffing costs directly to patient care, Hill-Davis said. "That's based on actual reimbursement rates and things that are set by the insurance companies."

SEIU Local 199, a union representing 4,000 University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics workers, cited staffing shortages in contract talks last month.

Comment bubble

Enrollment in 4-year nursing programs increased nearly 6% in 2020, to 250,856, according to preliminary results from an annual survey of 900 nursing schools by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Loading ...