As COVID-19 preparation consumes the medical industry the Dallas region has seen a 200 percent increase in requests for nurses since February according to Dallas-based AMN healthcare, the nation’s largest medical staffing firm.
Chief Clinical Officer of AMN Dr. Cole Edmonson says they are seeing increases across the board, but especially for those with experience in the ICU and ER and respiratory therapists as well. He says the industry is responding well to react to that demand. “We continue to pull whatever levers we need to to help the public health system respond,” he says.
Around the nation, demand is even greater. New York City has seen a 1000 percent gain in the demand for nurses while Houston is looking for 500 percent more nurses. Kelli Mulloy, CEO of local medical staffing agency Inline Group says they matched more candidates in the last two weeks than any other two-week period in the company’s memory. The company is also doing pro bono work for hospitals in New York in the creation of a marketing campaign to find more resources, even while some of their candidates back out of positions in the area as they await to see what happens with the crisis.
Edmonson they are working on reducing barriers to licensure in certain states and allowing providers to move around the country to wherever and whenever they are needed most. Nurses and physicians are normally licensed in certain states, but AMN and others are advocating for a loosening of those restrictions. He is also seeing nurses pivot from other areas of medicine into respiratory, emergency, and ICU care as other elective procedures have been banned in most states. Both pivoting roles and added staffing and resources will be necessary as the crisis grows, sucking the energy out of other service lines and facilities. “We are finding that small organizations who are not heavily involved in the COVID-19 response are suffering as patients are staying home,” Mulloy writes.
In DFW the increased demand is to prepare for the oncoming rush of patients which is being predicted. “In an unprecedented time, an unprecedented response level is key,” Edmnson says. He emphasized the need for public and private health systems to unite with the armed forces to coordinate care.
While Edmonsons says that much of the future is unknown, he has been inspired by the collaboration and dedication he is seeing from the nation’s health systems. “What we are seeing is all the health systems coming together, putting the competition aside for the needs of the community.”
AMN sent the word out to its network of providers and had over 25,000 physicians, nurses, and other caregivers volunteer to serve where needed. Some were currently retired, others had let their license become inactive, but all were willing to chip in if necessary. Edmonson said nursing and graduate students were contributing as well as they leaned in to the crisis.
The next step for AMN is coordinating all those volunteers to meet the need, arranging for travel and making connections between the health systems in need and those willing to work.m”We are seeing amazing heroics from our colleagues right now – it’s inspiring,” Edmonson says.