As Georgia’s COVID-19 Hospitalizations Rise, Travel Nurses In High Demand

Surging hospitalizations are straining health care systems around the country.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

As the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations is rising again in Georgia, travel nurses are in high demand. Also, respiratory-type nurses, capable of taking care of coronavirus patients.

That’s according to Chris Eales, the CEO of Premier Healthcare Professionals, a nurse staffing firm based in Cumming, Georgia.

He told WABE’s “All Things Considered” host Jim Burress that it’s been a demanding and chaotic past 9 months, and he’s concerned about the number of nurses available to fight another wave of outbreaks in Georgia.

“Putting COVID-19 to one side, there is a large shortage of nurses as it stands,” Eales said.

“To then move to a scenario where it was only certain nurses with certain skill sets that were required, it was very challenging for us.”

He said many nurses started to phone PHP, asking for open positions during the pandemic.

“That, to me, was just staggering. These nurses, it just blows my mind to think that people have the mindset that they would put their patients ahead of their own safety and wellbeing,” Eales said.

He said surprisingly, very few nurses contracted through PHP have contracted COVID-19.

But one of the travel nurses currently based in the COVID hotspot of Albany is Tamillia Lowery.

In the last six to eight weeks, the demand for nurses capable of caring for coronavirus patients has skyrocketed.

But she told Burress about her first intense day back in March. Within a week, the unit was full of patients struggling to breathe.

“I remember crying every day. Leaving the hospital, walking to my car and crying,” Lowery said.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic continue to deteriorate. The latest figures from the state Department of Public Health show coronavirus hospitalizations continue to climb.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force has warned of aggressive community spread across the U.S., especially as families plan to host mixed-household parties during the holidays.

Lily Oppenheimer contributed to this report.