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Nurses wanted: Swamped hospitals scramble for pandemic help

Published:Thursday | December 3, 2020 | 12:12 AM
 In this November 24 photo, Registered Nurse Chrissie Burkhiser puts on personal protective equipment as she prepares to treat a COVID-19 patient in the emergency room at Scotland County Hospital in Memphis, Missouri.
In this November 24 photo, Registered Nurse Chrissie Burkhiser puts on personal protective equipment as she prepares to treat a COVID-19 patient in the emergency room at Scotland County Hospital in Memphis, Missouri.

OMAHA, Nebraska (AP):

UNITED STATES hospitals slammed with COVID-19 patients are trying to lure nurses and doctors out of retirement, recruiting students and new graduates who have yet to earn their licences, and offering eye-popping salaries in a desperate bid to ease staffing shortages.

With the virus surging from coast to coast, the number of patients in the hospital with the virus has more than doubled over the past month to a record high of nearly 100,000, pushing medical centres and healthcare workers to the breaking point.

“Nurses are under immense pressure right now,” said Kendra McMillan, a senior policy adviser for the American Nurses Association. “We’ve heard from nurses on the front lines who say they’ve never experienced the level of burnout we’re seeing right now.”

Governors in hard-hit states like Wisconsin and Nebraska are making it easier for retired nurses to come back, including by waiving licensing requirements and fees, though it can be a tough sell for older nurses, who would be in more danger than many of their colleagues if they contracted the virus.

Some are taking jobs that don’t involve working directly with patients to free up front-line nurses, McMillan said.

Iowa is allowing temporary, emergency licences for new nurses who have met the state’s educational requirements but haven’t yet taken the state licensing exam. Some Minnesota hospitals are offering winter internships to nursing students to boost their staffs. The internships are typically offered in the summer, but were cancelled this year because of COVID-19.