MN Hospital Workers Feel Strains


According to the MN News reporter Catharine Richert, rural Minnesota hospitals are feeling the staff shortages as Covid fatigued works quit the job while the pandemic persists.

It has been stressful. And as we have nurses out sick, and [with]more community-based needs, those [responsibilities] increase.

– Donna Corey, Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin, MN (source: MPR News)

Catherine describes that nurses like ‘Cory and her team spent a recent shift trying to transfer a patient who needed a higher level of care to a larger hospital. It’s become a time-consuming and routine part of her daily work as COVID-19 patients stretch capacity at large hospitals that typically accept patients Riverwood is not equipped to care for’.

“I know that [my coworkers] probably called 10 different places last night, and weren’t able to transfer [the patient] and now we’re starting over today. That’s a lot of the day on the phone, calling somebody and that takes a whole person to do,” told Cory to Catherine.

Recently many healthcare workers, especially nurses have reportedly left their permanent positions opting to work as lucrative traveling positions.

Some rural hospitals like Riverwood are paying up to $10,000 signing bonuses for some positions, writes Catherine. Quoting hospital human resource chief Lee Reichenbach, Catherine writes “Early retirements, that was a big one. Some [left] to take other jobs. In this current landscape, you can walk across the street and get another job at another place just because everybody has needs.”

A contract worker might have been paid 25 percent more just a year or two ago, said Johnson. Now Riverwood typically pays 50 to 100 percent more.

– Casey Johnson, chief financial officer, Riverwood (source: MPR News)

Emily McCartha, a researcher with the Sheps Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told MPR News “The situation of travel nurses may be a ‘win’ for nurses who have been underpaid for a long time. But because traveling nurses tend to make more money than permanent staff, if they’re working on a team with nurses making less but conceivably knowing more at least about the employment setting, [it] can cause tension.”

Drew Van Santen, a nurse manager told MPR News “People are making ridiculous sums of money to do the same work that they were doing at their primary location. I’m happy for you on one side. But at the same time, what other areas are suffering as a result of your departure?”

Coronavirus-19 vaccination watch

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID vaccination tracker page (as of February 17, 9 a.m.) 684,648,105 doses have been distributed and 548,934,364 doses administered. According MDH COVID-19 Response vaccine data (as of Feb 15) a total of 9,354,559 doses of Covid-19 (Pfizer & Moderna) vaccines have been administered in Minnesota. According to the MDH latest tally (as of February 17) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 1,402,439 (out of 18,533,149 tested) with 11,930 deaths.