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"Labor Trends to Watch In Healthcare"
As the global pandemic persists, learn how hospital employers are finding ways to meet the several demands from national nurse unions.
Healthcare workers caught a breath when COVID-19 cases fell and vaccination efforts started off strong, but the omicron variant is again stressing hospitals and workers, further exacerbating burnout and leading some to consider leaving their roles.
Hospitals need nurses so desparately they’re offering massive sign-on bonuses and staffing firms say open positions for both temporary and permanent nursing roles are at all-time highs, commanding record rates for contract labor.
It’s unclear when demand will abate, especially as patients continue delaying non-emergency care that they will eventually need, and as mental and behavioral health conditions worsen across the population.
But the pandemic is also helping some healthcare workers and the labor unions representing them win better working conditions through contract deals that they say will help attract and retain needed staff.
National Nurses United, the country’s largest nurses union, reached a number of deals this summer negotiating new contracts for thousands of members at HCA Healthcare and Dignity hospitals. And New York state passed a safe staffing law long advocated for by nurses and nursing unions, though it fell short of hard nurse to patient ratios.
Some have been less successful though, like the hundreds of nurses at Tenet’s Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, who went on strike for months over stricter staffing measures.
The pandemic surely isn’t over yet, and as new variants pose upcoming challenges to recouping last year’s lost revenues, hospitals will have to adapt and make sure they’re able to recruit and retain sustainable workforces.
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