St. Peter’s Health Partners will no longer hire travel nurses who live within 50 miles of Albany, NY. Its regional partner under Trinity Health, St. Joseph’s Health, will institute the same policy in the Syracuse region.
“We truly appreciate the sacrifices that travel staff made to help us during the pandemic. They filled many gaps in our workforce, allowing us to continue to provide safe, exceptional care to our patients,” said Dr. Steven Hanks, President & CEO, St. Peter’s Health Partners and St. Joseph’s Health. “It’s now time to move away from external contract labor so we can re-invest in our core staff.”
Travel rates were designed to accommodate for the fact that people were leaving their homes and families, living in hotels, and traveling to hospitals far away.
“What we’re experiencing in the post-pandemic period is that our travel staff are more likely to not be actually travelling, and instead are moving over from neighboring facilities in order to take advantage of the enhanced rates,” said Hanks. “That’s not what the rates were designed for. They were meant to be paid during the exceptional circumstances where you have no other choice but to hire labor from outside the market. Having travel staff who aren’t actually travelling work alongside our colleagues at a higher rate of pay causes resentment among co-workers and is not financially sustainable for our health system.”
Out of fairness and respect for staff at St. Peter’s Health Partners and St. Joseph’s Health, a policy has been created that restricts anyone who resides within 50 miles of the hospital where they’d be working from being hired as travel staff.
Nationally, contract labor expenses have risen more than 250% over the past three years. The U.S. average pay for travel nurses was $150 an hour in early 2022, which experts say tempted more nurses to leave staff jobs, increasing turnover and exacerbating shortages.
With more than 9,000 job openings for nurses in New York State, St. Peter’s Health Partners and St. Joseph’s Health are finding new ways to recruit and retain nurses including referral bonuses, sign-on bonuses, and multifaceted outreach efforts. At both health systems, nurses have an autonomous voice, respect, and influence to drive decision making. They are empowered to take an active role to directly impact the care of our patients and their families through Unit Practice Councils, cross-training initiatives, and shared governance.
“Our nurses are the heart of our health systems; they are compassionate healers,” said Hanks. “We are deeply appreciative of their commitment and resilience, especially over the past few years.”