Valley hospitals continue efforts to recruit, retain nurses amid shortage
The Rio Grande Valley is in critical need of nurses. Health experts say currently, hundreds of openings remain unfilled at several hospitals across the Valley.
Officials say the pandemic’s strain on nurses and other frontline workers has led to burnout and has motivated many in the healthcare field to look for other higher-paying jobs.
Chief Nurse Officer at South Texas Health System, Kennetha Foster, says that while many nurses leave their positions, her team continues to work to recruit and retain quality nurses.
Valley hospitals are seeing the greatest need for nurses in the intensive care unit, or ICU.
Hospital leaders say the quality of patient care remains uninterrupted because the need for caregivers will only increase in the spring because many state nurses assigned to each Valley hospital are only here temporarily.
Throughout the pandemic, the need for travel nurses has also skyrocketed, along with their salaries, making the market much more competitive for recruiters.
"There is a greater need sometimes in the north, or in other areas of Texas, so we'll see our own nurses go to work as a travel nurse and they do make more money," Foster said. "We want to encourage those people to come back after they finish their travel contract."
South Texas Health System has taken action to try to keep nurses from leaving, including increased wage rates for assistant positions, increased minimum wage for non-medical positions and incentives for nurses.
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