Travel nurses laid off due to low ER census

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The coronavirus has created challenging times for many people around the world, including the loss of jobs and careers. According to the Washington Post, the United States now has 22 million people unemployed within a four week span since President Trump declared a national emergency. But in the field of nursing, you would think that there is a sense of job security, especially because we need more nurses than ever.

A traveling nurse is a skilled healthcare professional who takes assignments in hospitals that have short-term staffing needs. But because the ER census is low, which means that patients are not coming in with life-threatening situations, hospitals have to cancel contracts for travel nurses in order to make sure that they can still pay their regular staff. In addition to that, hospitals are at the point of being over staffed, so there is not much room for travel nurses. 

Alida Youngblood, a travel nurse who was recently laid off from her Orlando assignment, had been working there for five weeks before they broke the news to her. “I kind of knew that it was going to happen when they released the area codes of travel nurses that they would have to let go,” Youngblood said. “I immediately thought about my family and how I need to provide for them and what would be my next move.”

Youngblood has a degree in nursing, and she figured she wouldn’t have to worry about being without a job. But the tables have turned dramatically.

Kelly Decarufel, a travel nurse at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, said that she was told that jobs would be cut by the end of next month, including hers. “I was hurt, but being a travel nurse you should always know that your job is never secure,” Decarufel said. “Me and my husband are in the middle of building a house, so keeping a job is essential to be able to close on our house. It just sucks.”

In many cases, hospitals like TMH are not experiencing life-threatening situations. So hours get cut, they send nurses home early and travel nurses get laid off.

Stetson Savage, a travel nurse in Ocala, wasn’t too shocked when he was told his contract would be canceled. “I didn’t really have a reaction,” Savage said. “I just knew that I would need to go back to the drawing board and restart my search.”

Savage says he is now trying to find contract assignments in Fort Lauderdale, his hometown.