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East Texas hospitals experience nurse shortage as COVID-19 cases increase

Travel nursing is contributing to the nurse shortage at hospitals nationwide.

As COVID-19 numbers continue to increase again, nurse staffing remains an issue in hospitals nationwide. This is largely because travel nursing became increasingly popular during the 2020 pandemic making it difficult for hospitals to hire nurses. Dr. Anderson, Chief Medical Officer at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital says, “There's been an unusual market bubble created for nurses, which creates lots of opportunity for them to seek higher dollar pay in certain areas across the country. And because of that many of them haven't returned to us.”

Dollar signs are attracting many to become travel nurses. According to travelnursisng.org, they tend to make roughly $33,000 more than the average staff nurse. 

Local nurses blame low staffing numbers at East Texas hospitals on the unequal pay Tyler nurses are offered compared to their out-of-state counterparts:

“The staffing is low because we're not getting that same money that somebody from California and New York is getting. That's why the staffing is slow” says Lisa Williams, a local vocational nurse. Besides equal pay, Williams says there are other needs of East Texas nurses that hospitals need to fulfill if they want to secure employment from them:

“We need benefits for our families. And we need education where we can go and go to school and get reimbursements for our education or get some kind of scholarships that are in place.”

CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital, however, does offer benefits such as student loan guidance and refinancing, 403 (b), tuition reimbursement, medical/dental/vision plans, prescription drug plans, life insurance, disability, flexible spending account options, identity theft protection, front-loaded PTO hours, as well as pandemic-related benefits to help assist.