Novant trying to reduce reliance on travel nurses

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – We’ve received a number of emails from employees at Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center, who are worried after hearing the hospital is terminating its contracts with traveling nurses at the end of this month. Travel nurses typically work for an agency which contracts with hospitals trying to fill open nurse positions. These nurses work for a set length of time, and are usually paid more than traditional nurses who are employed directly by the hospital.

“We are very dependent on the help of these travel nurses and their contracts are being canceled this month. This means that all of the permanent staff members will be stretched very thin and this creates a truly dangerous scenario of those in our community that need healthcare. This is truly unsuccessful and it’s likely that this will drive away the permanent staff. More important, the level of care that our citizens will receive will be subpar,” one concerned hospital staff member wrote to WECT.

Some hospital employees told us they were informed about the changes through email. Others said the change was announced at a staff meeting. Employees were reported so concerned that some nurses took a stand by refusal to clock and accept assignments because they felt the change would create a critical safety issue.

A Novant Health confirmed they are trying to reduce their dependence on contract labor, but said there was not a system wide policy going into effect to discontinue the use of contract labor and travel nurses.

“While we are working towards a goal of reducing our dependence on travel nurses to pre-pandemic levels, we will continue our use of this contract labor to ensure our continued ability to provide safe, quality care to our patients. It’s important for our communities to know that we have the continued ability to care for them, and that they should seek care when they need it,” a said in a written statement.

“The national nursing existed prior to the pandemic, and we have long had plans in place to manage different scenarios that could impact our staffing levels. Plans include float pools and other strategies that are not reliant on the contract labor needed during the height of the pandemic,” the written statement continued. “We will also continue to prioritize recruiting and retaining healthcare professionals to join our team with programs centered on internal advancements, professional development, external recruitment and competitive incentives.”

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