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"There's a lot at stake," Travel nurses describe working during the pandemic

There are roughly 23,000 more jobs than there are nurses to fill them in Texas.
Credit: CBS

TEXAS, USA — As hospitals fill to capacity the workload is increasing for travel nurses who cross city and even state lines to fill areas of critical need during the pandemic.

Tyler resident Jerrilyn Miner is a travel nurse in Rockwall County Jail.

She said, “We have policies and procedures in place to take care of our inmates. You know, with COVID they're getting vaccines. They're getting the infusions. The staff wear masks. So we're COVID-19 ready.”

Next, she’ll move on to Denver, Colorado. 

Miner said travel nursing is lucrative yet taxing at the same time.

“A lot of times us as nurses, we take care of everybody else and we put ourselves on the back burner, but we have to be healthy in order to take care of those that are sick and need to be healthy," she said.

Lisa Felder was home in Tyler last week. This week, she's in Santa Clara County, California.

She said, “I started getting things together. I made a list of everything that I would need to travel. And like they say, if you stay ready, you don't have to get ready. So I was ready.”

Her travel nurse essentials include Tylenol, toiletries, a pop-up laundry basket and a pencil case to store her detergent pods.

"You don't squish your pods when you travel,” Felder explained.

She traded in her 9-5 office job for travel nursing in January and was acclimating well when covid-19 cases skyrocketed.

She said, “the Delta variant has come through with a tail whip. The hospitals are inundated. They just don't- we don't have anything. There’s just not enough nurses to go around.”

The Texas Tribune reports there are 23,000 more jobs than there are nurses to fill them in Texas. The nurses available are stretched thin mentally, and literally stretched from state to state as they care for more patients during this COVID-19 surge.  

Miner said this work is a calculated risk.

“You're having to go in wanting to make it back home to your loved ones. So it's a lot at stake,” she said.