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Healthcare workers in high demand amid pandemic, hourly rates increasing

Posted at 10:09 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 00:09:53-05

Healthcare workers are in high demand across Arizona and the country as hospitals are dealing with and preparing for an increase in COVID-19 patients.

On Monday, the state's coronavirus dashboard showed 11% of available ICU beds remain statewide. In total, 33% are now occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Health and data experts have warned for weeks about a potential staff during a COVID-19 surge.

"Generally, space and supply are OK; the critical limiting factor is staffing," said Ann-Marie Alameddin, president and CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.

Alameddin said ICU nurses and respiratory therapists are among the positions in the highest demand for hospitals.

Given the hotspots and increases in cases around the country, there are fewer traveling nurses and other staff available to pull from other states.

Almameddin told ABC15, in general, some of those positions are now costing hospitals some three times the standard rate. For some, that is an increase from $50 an hour to $150 an hour.

"That's what we saw in the summer. There was intense competition for traveling nurses and for staff," she said. "We had some staff going over to other traveling agencies and it just is really driving up prices for hospitals."

Alameddin also stressed the importance of giving relief to healthcare workers on the front lines. She urged people to do their part to help slow the spread of the virus.

"We are headed into very difficult weeks ahead in December if we do not change our behavior," she said. "Now is the time to do so."