Wisconsin’s hospitals are relying heavily on travel nurses and paying top dollar to staff their institutions

The pandemic and delayed medical care have increased demand as nurses in Wisconsin and elsewhere leave the profession

As new cases of COVID-19 rise to levels not seen since January, Wisconsin hospitals are hiring more temporary staff than they did during the surge last fall and winter.

“This is another dynamic that has been greatly exacerbated this time around,” said Wisconsin Hospital Association President and CEO Eric Borgerding. “The price of agency staff is going through the roof.”

On average, acute care travel nurses can make between $55 to $110 per hour depending on the acuity of their patients, location and specialty they’re servicing, said Premier Medical Staffing Services owner Laura Hanoski.

Those wages are encouraging retired nurses to reenter the workforce, and pushing working nurses to quit their regular jobs with a hospital to become a travel nurse, the owner of the Milwaukee staffing agency said.

“They’re chasing money, which is sad to say. But on the flip side, it’s really good for the community that’s having the crisis and needs help,” Hanoski said.

State health officials have cautioned that hospitals are filling up, while also urging people to get vaccinated against both the flu and COVID-19, and to wear a mask indoors around strangers.

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