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.
“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.