January 31, 2022

IU Health hires more than 600 contract nurses due to surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Shortages of clinical staff have been widespread in both large and small hospitals. - (Devan Ridgway, WFIU/WTIU News)

Shortages of clinical staff have been widespread in both large and small hospitals.

(Devan Ridgway, WFIU/WTIU News)

Indiana University Health—the state’s largest health system—has hired more than 600 agency or contract nurses to bolster its care teams amid nationwide shortages.

That’s in addition to implementing an internal, premium pay program for nurses and other providers who take 15-week assignments in the areas of greatest need.

Chris Weaver is chief clinical officer for IU Health. He says the system has widened its usual search radius for staff.

"It’s that hard throughout," he said. "We have expanded our staffing with hundreds of traveling nurses over the last several months."

Officials at IU Health and across the state insist the vast majority of workers leaving are quitting due to strenuous working conditions—not vaccine mandates.

The system declined to outline the average pay these temporary workers are receiving.

According to Ivy Tech, Indiana has 4,300 annual openings for nurses. Nationally, nearly one in five has changed jobs, according to a study from Nursing Solutions, a recruitment firm. 

The firm is offering several full-time jobs in Indiana with incentives up to $55,000 with additional relocation stipends.

Other traveling firms advertise temporary jobs paying more than $5,000 per week in multiple Indiana cities.

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