Georgia nurses are driving hours to fill staffing gaps due to Omicron

Tori Hood, an emergency room nurse at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, gives 15-year-old Tristan Linscott her first COVID-19 vaccine dose at a pop-up vaccination clinic at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park. (Sam Whitehead/WABE)

Nursing shortages in Georgia have reached a critical point — much like peak, early-pandemic levels.

In order to ease the burden of healthcare workers calling out sick due to the Omicron variant, hospitals, long-term care facilities and other healthcare settings are calling on temporary or travel nurses to drive sometimes hours just to work a shift.

Matthew Mawby is the co-founder of the Alpharetta-based healthcare staffing agency, StaffHealth.

He says some large Georgia hospital systems can afford to pay traveling nurses a $10,000 incentive, but there’s a huge sector of the healthcare space — like nursing homes — that can’t afford to do that.

Mawby joined WABE’s “All Things Considered” to talk about how the Omicron variant has thrown a wrench into healthcare staffing levels.

Lily Oppenheimer contributed to this report.