Mississippi hospitals losing hundreds of staff to high-paid traveling nurse jobs

Published: Oct. 31, 2021 at 7:09 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - While COVID-19 cases are decreasing drastically in Mississippi, so are the healthcare workers. A boom in demand for travel nurses has exacerbated a staffing issue, with many nurses leaving their hometown hospitals for better pay.

This has left many smaller hospitals frantic for funding and support, including Singing River Health System.

In August, Gov. Tate Reeves announced that more than 1,000 healthcare workers would be deployed to hospitals across the state, including at Singing River Health System’s three hospitals under a 60-day contract.

Fast-forward 60 days later, most of the state-contracted MEMA nurses assigned to help fill gaps will work their last day this week, meaning that Singing River will lose their 70 contracted workers.

Nurse practitioners are leading the way in Pearl River County, which has been designated a...
Nurse practitioners are leading the way in Pearl River County, which has been designated a health professional shortage area.(Photo Source: WLOX)

The 60-day contract was $10 million per week, but that money was 100 percent refunded by the federal government through the Stafford Act.

“The short-term payments they have used to stay afloat and keep quality care accessible in our communities have now crippled the financials of these not-for-profit hospitals,” according to the statement. “This is an urgent issue and Mississippi must change these dynamics.”

But, Singing River has been pleading for extra funding for months.

In August, Singing River Health System CEO Lee Bond told WLOX News Now that he believed the American Rescue Plan could provide a long-term solution.

“We’ve got $1.8 billion coming into the state. If we could just allocate 25 percent of those federal funds, that’s enough for $20,000 for every nurse in the entire state of Mississippi to do a two-year contract. That’s a long-term solution,” said Bond.

Mississippi hospitals are negatively affected by not having the nearly $1 billion of federal Medicaid funds that other areas provide, according to Singing River Health System.

In the last few weeks, more Mississippi RN’s have left the state for contracts in higher-paying areas of the country, offering high incentives completely independent of the current COVID-19 status in those locations.

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