Travel nurse set to help battle state's coronavirus surge

Posted at 7:51 PM, Dec 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-13 00:10:27-05

It's her third city during the pandemic, but a travel nurse says she's ready to get to work to help during Arizona's latest coronavirus surge.

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Veronica Rodriguez is a travel nurse, a highly coveted resource during the pandemic, and moved to Phoenix within the past week. She starts working at a Valley hospital on Monday.

"Just here to join the team and help," Rodriguez said. "They just need another set of hands and that's what I'm here to do."

Rodriguez told ABC15 she most recently worked in Florida and, before that, in New York during the early stages of the COIVD-19 pandemic.

"It was sad," she said. "A lot of people died."

During Arizona's current coronavirus surge, hospital systems around the state have said staffing is among the biggest challenges. With hotspots around the country, there is a limited supply of travel nurses and other key healthcare workers who can come to Arizona.

"Staffing, as we've talked about before, will continue to be the biggest challenge that we all face," said Banner Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel during a media availability Wednesday.

Dr. Bessel noted Banner is still trying to fill more than 400 positions.

This week, the head of Tucson Medical Center also expressed concern about additional staff.

"Money does not fix this problem," said Tucson Medical Center CEO Judy Rich Friday, referencing money the facility will receive from the state to help with staffing. "I wish that I could use the $2 million to bring travel nurses in or pay for more staff's just simply not available."

Rodriguez is contracted through Aya Healthcare, which currently lists more than 36,000 open positions across the country, with many in Arizona

"My recruiter did ask me if I had any friends that could come with me because there's such a need," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez also told ABC15 about some of the toughest parts of working on the frontline during the pandemic.

"When someone that's the same age as me is not doing well and I'm the one that has to FaceTime their family with an iPad so they can say bye," she said. "That's hard."

Rodriguez said with her experience dealing with COVID-19 patients for months she is well equipped for what's to come in Arizona.

"With all this COVID, I'm used to it," she said. "So if I can be of service, then why not? I'm a nurse, it's what we do. We take care of people."