PHOENIX — The state's largest hospital system is calling on all available nurses, telling ABC15 as part of a virtual press conference, Banner currently has more than 1,000 openings at the moment.
As COVID cases pile up around the U.S., hospitals are now once again competing for workers.
“As most all healthcare systems across the country have experienced, Banner Health is experiencing turnover in our nursing staff,” said Banner Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel.
The staff burnt out after battling the pandemic on the frontline for more than a year. Dr. Bessel says cases only seem to be increasing at the moment, especially in children.
Seventy-one children were admitted to Banner hospitals with COVID in July, double the number admitted in June. The vast majority fortunately only needed supportive care.
“Unlike what Banner has experienced thus far this summer, hospitals in other major metropolitan cities across the country have seen COVID pediatric ICU admissions and ventilator usage increase dramatically this past month,” said Dr. Bessel.
Hence the concern over so many staff openings.
Dr. Bessel says Banner currently has 1,057 bedside nursing vacancies and 327 nursing support roll vacancies. The hospital system is hoping to retain burnt-out staff by offering counseling and comprehensive well-being benefits.
“We’ve also raised significantly the starting pay rate for many RNs so that we can stay competitive in the market place,” said Dr. Bessel.
With such a competitive marketplace, she was asked if she regretted mandating vaccines and the staff that may be lost who refuse to take it.
“We are working with individuals to explain our rationale and to encourage them if they are not yet vaccinated, to get vaccinated. It is our absolute desire as we get to our November 1 deadline to have every single team member to continue this journey with us,” said Dr. Bessel.
Banner officials says they are ramping up hiring ahead of the fall flu season now. The plan is to bring in approximately 1,500 travel nurses to help beef up current staffing levels.