San Diego hospital leaders are reporting they are facing staffing shortages and are having to import talent from around the country to keep up their staff to patient ratios.
While San Diego's COVID-19 case rate is decreasing, hospital leaders here are still reporting having problems maintaining the staff they need to keep their hospitals running.
"We’re less likely to run out of beds for patients and more likely to run out of staff to care for those patients and that’s really the challenging part," said Dr. Christopher Longhurst from UCSD Health. "Many healthcare systems are having to pay exorbitant prices to import talent from outside of the state and we’ve even heard of some nursing staff leaving the state to go help places like Texas and Florida who are paying very high rates for temporary help and so all of this is impacting our ability to care for patients."
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UCSD Health is using Aya Healthcare, a travel nurse staffing agency, to help recruit healthcare workers to fill their open positions. Sophia Morris, Vice President of Account Management at Aya Healthcare, says between hospital staff contracting Covid to workers leaving the industry completely because of burnout, her agency is seeing the highest demand they've ever experienced in their 20 years in business.
"It could also be at this point because of the vaccine mandates. We’re definitely seeing increase in areas due to hospitals anticipating that they could lose staff because of the vaccine mandates," Morris said.
Morris said right now they have 44,000 open positions they're looking to fill at healthcare systems around the country. She says some hospitals are even paying three times as much as what they were paying pre-pandemic because of their shortages.
Tiffany Dixon quit her full time job of 8 years as an ICU nurse in Pittsburgh to take a 6 week contract in Fresno, California through Aya Healthcare. She says she was nervous to quit her job and move across the country because she had no idea how long she would be needed. She is now on her second contract at UCSD Health in San Diego and says she is making twice as much money as she was in Pittsburgh.
"It wasn’t the money that brought me here, I wanted to help people in need," Dixon said.