HOUSTON - It’s no secret that healthcare workers have been stretched thin over the course of the pandemic. The latest struggle includes staff shortages as they work to administer COVID vaccines to thousands of people. A local medical staffing agency is hoping to help fulfill that demand.
At the height of the pandemic, healthcare workers, particularly nurses, are in higher demand than ever. But the supply pool isn’t keeping up.
"Everybody's competing for the nurses. So right now, you know, in Houston, the ICU is full. Well, you only have so many ICU nurses. So everybody wants them," said Christina Cornealius, CEO and founder of CBC Medical Staffing.
For the last nine years, Cornealius's agency has been deploying freelance, licensed medical professionals to hospitals, nursing homes and businesses across the country to help fulfill the growing need.
Over the course of the pandemic, the focus has been on testing and contact tracing. Now, it's turned to vaccinations.
"The need could be they're pulling their nurses to do the vaccines and they need someone else to take their spot on the floor," Cornealius said.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than one million additional registered nurses are needed to meet the demands for 2020 alone.
In March, Governor Abbott waived some requirements for nursing students to help expand the workforce.
Cornealius said the higher pay is also reflecting that demand.
"Nurses normally, you know with 5-10 years experience make $35-$40 an hour. They're topping over $100 to $125 per hour and getting big time bonuses like $10k, $20k $30,000 bonuses now," Cornealius said.
Experts attribute the nursing shortage to a larger aging population and burnout.
"Because of this pandemic, it's not just local, its global. It's really pulling at the nurses and the nurses right now are dealing with burnout," Cornealius said.
Currently, there's are approximately 3.9 million nurses in the US.
The American Nursing Association says that there will be more nursing jobs available than any other profession through the year 2022.
Cornealius said her agency is now fully focusing on recruiting efforts.