Before the pandemic, nurses were underpaid and hospitals were understaffed. After the pandemic, these issues were only exacerbated. Nurses left hospitals and entered the travel nurse workforce because they could make more money. Hospitals, especially hospitals in rural areas that were already having a hard time keeping nurses on staff and recruiting new ones, have had to pay travel nurse agencies more money to keep their hospitals staffed to meet patient demand during the pandemic. There is a very high demand for nurses, particularly in areas that have been hard hit by COVID-19, and not enough nurses to go around.
While it is true that some hospitals have lost money during the pandemic, it’s also true that a lot of hospitals are seeing record profits (just like health insurance companies) because of the pandemic. Hospitals complaining about the cost of nurses, even though they created the conditions that initially caused nursing staffing shortages, have led members of Congress to ask The White House’s COVID-19 Response Team to investigate travel nurse agencies and how much travel nurses are making. I first heard about this on TikTok from @underthedesknews. You can watch part one of the story and follow that up with part two.
In the letter, Representative Peter Welch (Vermont), writes that
We are writing because of our concerns that certain nurse-staffing agencies are taking advantage of these difficult circumstances to increase their profits at the expense of patients and the hospitals that treat them.Nurse Staffing Letter from Members of Congress
All three members that represent Montgomery County, Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Congressman John Sarbanes (MD-03), and Congressman David Trone (MD-06), co-signed the letter. Nowhere in the letter does it address hospital profits, CEO and other executive pay, or how hospitals have traditionally treated nurses and other healthcare staff which initially led to nurse shortages.
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