Local hospitals offering healthcare staff financial incentives to work extra during surge

In an effort to help keep up with the number of patients coming in to local hospitals and staffing shortages, those who can work may be eligible for incentives.

MIAMI, Fla. – For nearly two years, healthcare workers have been battling COVID-19. Now the omicron variant of the coronavirus is bringing in more patients again, but also sickening nurses and other providers.

“It’s about 120 employees out sick and obviously the patients are increasing,” said Martha Baker, RN, BSN, president of SEIU Healthcare Florida Local 1991, which represents 5,000 nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals at Jackson Health System.

South Florida hospitals, including Jackson, are now offering incentives over the next six weeks for those who work extra shifts and forego vacation time.

“Jackson is not alone. Baptist, Memorial, they are all doing the same thing,” Baker said.

Baker said Jackson is increasing extra shift bonuses and payments to reduce call outs until Feb. 5.

The Florida Department of Health reported nearly 47,000 new cases to the CDC on Tuesday. More testing sites open in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

“For the bedside nurse, we’ve agreed to an agreement to pay them $3,500 at six weeks if you haven’t called in sick,” she said.

The surge in cases are impacting an already difficult time faced by hospitals trying to maintain staff levels.

“As the patients start to increase in number, the demand for caregivers goes up so it’s kind of working against us; it’s digging our hole deeper,” Baker said.

Local hospitals are hoping that the incentives for workers to come in will help get them through the latest surge.

Hopefully the numbers will start to drop by the end of January heading into February. But, of course, that remains to be seen.

About the Authors:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.