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Travel nursing agency says Texas leads the country in medical staff requests

A spokesperson for Aya Healthcare said there is about 6,500 out-of-state personnel request in Texas with 400 of them in Austin.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas hospitals are overwhelmed and the need for help is urgent. 

Aya Healthcare, a travel nursing agency, said it's seeing the most significant wave of requests for travel nurses and other medical staff since the start of the pandemic and Texas is leading the country in requests. 

RELATED: As Austin Public Health waits for staffing help, hospitals get creative with capacity issues

"Hospitals are calling and saying, 'OK, we need people now,'" said Aya Healthcare Vice President of Account Management Sophia Morris. "We're either going to have to turn away patients because we don't have staff to be able to take them. We're willing to do quicker onboarding processes. We're willing to increase our rates to get the staff faster."

Morris said there is about 6,500 out-of-state personnel needed in Texas. In the Austin area, Aya has 400 job openings and about 200 clinicians working to combat the surge.

"I'd say over half of our needs are in a crisis point at this at this stage," said Morris.

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With an increase in demand is an increase in pay. 

"It's really hard work, particularly in these COVID units," said Morris. 

She said in Texas, pay rates are back up to between $4,000 to $5,000 a week and rising. During surges last year, she said rates were as high as $10,0000 a week, but this time around, nurses aren't stretching themselves as thin. 

"I think nurse burnout has had a factor in this and not seeing as many people that are wanting to work 60 hours a week, which completely makes sense," said Morris. "I think a lot of hospitals are starting to be flexible with wanting nurses to work 48 hours a week." 

Morris said burnout, fewer hours, elective surgeries and this COVID surge created the perfect storm to rock the healthcare system. 

Some local hospitals plan to mandate vaccines for all staff later this year.

Ascension said they're not sure if their rule will apply to contractors deployed by the state, but Baylor Scott & White's spokesperson said their rule will apply to any state contractors they get.

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