Due to shortage, GMH continues to hire travel nurses at $225 an hour

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Guam Memorial Hospital (PNC file photo)

Due to the continuing shortage of nurses, the Guam Memorial Hospital continues to need so-called “travel nurses” supplied by mainland staffing agencies at a whopping rate of $225 an hour.

GMH chief executive officer Lillian Perez-Posadas, during the last GMH board meeting, said the hospital has no recourse but to continue to hire travel nurses because the COVID hospitalizations had increased and GMH still does not have enough nurses.

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“We continue to rely on the travel nurses. For a while we were not getting as many nurses, they were just coming in one or two,” she said.

Perez-Posadas said GMH has increased its request for more travel nurses even though the high market demand for these travel nurses throughout the US has caused an increase in their hourly base rates.

Previously, she said the travel nurses’ rate was $175 an hour. But now, the rate has gone up to $225 an hour. The rate also covers the fee paid to the nurse staffing agency, administrative fees, and the transport, housing, and other costs for the nurses to live here.

Fortunately, Perez-Posadas said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has agreed to reimburse GMH 100 percent.

Some of the travel nurses have already arrived and more will be coming in throughout this month.

GMHA vice chairwoman Melissa Waibel, during the board meeting, mentioned that in California they were looking at going after the travel nurse staffing agencies who were charging exorbitant rates.

“Essentially, it’s like price gouging when there’s such a perilous need for them. It’s certainly worth watching,” she said.

According to Perez-Posadas, in the mainland, the hourly rate of travel nurses has even reached more than $300 per hour.

“The problem is that we’ve got nurses quitting at hospitals because they’re getting these kinds of rates. And so this adds fuel to the fire of shortages,” she said.

She added: “The National Council of Boards of Nursing needs to kind of step in, and investigate.”

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