Amid Nursing Shortage, Hospitals Face Mounting Costs for Registry Nurses
Faced with a growing nursing shortage, California hospitals have been "taken hostage" by registries that charge "big bucks" to provide temporary nurses to understaffed facilities, the East Bay Business Times reports. During last year and the first two quarters of this year, spending on temporary nurses in the Bay area from nursing registries topped a combined $200 million for Kaiser Permanente, Alta Bates Summit Medical System and three smaller hospitals. Hospital administrators say they must pay registry nurses about $10 per hour more than permanent nurses. Sandy Williams, assistant administrator and patient care executive at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital, said, "It's a supply and demand issue," adding the staffing agencies "know they are in demand and ... are going to call the shots." However, staffing companies, such as Nursefinders Inc., say they must charge more to cover the cost of their nurses' benefits. The Business Times reports that hospitals would prefer to hire permanent workers who have "made a commitment to the hospital." Mary Wheaton, a registered nurse and manager of medical and surgical services at Hayward's St Rose Hospital, said, "If we hired our own staff, it would be less costly, we'd have more satisfied customers and own nurses would be more satisfied." Staffing firms, however, can offer nurses more flexibility and provide then with a chance to "test" a facility. To bolster recruitment efforts, some hospitals are using new strategies focusing on nursing school graduates and the development of nurse managers (Mladinich, East Bay Business Journal, 8/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.