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Traveling nurses come to the rescue as hospitals struggle to find staff

The Department of Health and Human Services says nearly a fourth of U.S hospitals are reporting "critical staffing shortages."

YORK, Pa. — As hospitals scramble to fill staff shortages, traveling nurses are stepping up to the plate. 

"It's stressful, there's times when there's up and downs," said Jessica Vogel, a traveling nurse.

Throughout Vogel's eight years as a nurse, she's spent the last two working in high volume hospitals across the country:  from New Jersey, to Florida, to Pittsburgh.

Now working at WellSpan Health in York, Vogel says she chose the traveling nurse job because it's less demanding compared to staff position.

"There's always meetings, responsibilities, education, things you have to do while being a staff nurse," Vogel said.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services,  about 24% of hospitals nationwide are reporting staffing shortages.

"It means I keep working. If there's no one to take care of these patients, who will?" asked Vogel.

To fill the gap, hospitals such as WellSpan Health and recently, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), have began traveling nursing programs.

In a statement, UPMC gave an update on their program saying:

"Our UPMC Travel Staffing program is off to a great start with over 100 clinicians already hired in the program’s first 3 weeks." 

While traveling nurses receive higher salaries and incentives, Vogel said that hospitals must do more to keep workers around.

"Throwing them a pizza party isn't going to do it, giving them a piece of paper isn't going to do it. Walking around and actually listening to the nurses on what we need  is actually going to keep us at the bedside," she added.

On Wednesday, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 253, which provides the support to hospitals and nurses across the state.

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