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Traveling nurses leave Alabama as health leaders worry about potential winter spike

Many traveling nurses have already left Alabama
Many traveling nurses have already left Alabama
Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 9:51 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Health leaders worry about a possible COVID-19 surge as hospitals continue to report low staffing numbers.

In late October and early November, the state used about 13 million federal dollars to bring in more than 200 traveling nurses to help with the Delta surge, but they were only temporary.

Dr. Don Williamson with the Alabama Hospital Association said because nurses and respiratory therapists are in such high demand nationwide, the state’s traveling nurse contracts only lasted about six weeks. He said the last few nurses will be leaving Alabama hospitals this week.

Williamson said this is not the best time to lose the extra hands as COVID-19 cases trickle backup and health officials worry about the Omicron variant.

He said staffing inside hospitals has not gotten any better, but hospitals are more prepared this time.

“I think we are more nimble,” Williamson said. “We are more agile. We are better able to maximize the care with fewer staff. We have better therapies. All in all, I feel not good about our staffing situation, but I don’t feel our staffing situation is deteriorating, which is a win.”

Williamson said cases are not surging right now, but he does worry we will see a spike after the holidays. He said in order to prevent one, everyone should get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot.

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