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Some San Antonio hospitals willing to pay more for front line workers amid coronavirus pandemic

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By Laura Garcia of The San Antonio Express-News.This is a good example of what economists call a "compensating wage differential." That is when a worker gets paid more for doing unpleasant or dangerous work. That is necessary to get enough people to do those jobs.Excerpts from the article: "Are hospitals willing to pay nurses more to work during the COVID-19 crisis? They might not have a choice if the number of hospitalizations continues to rise. “They are stretched to the limit,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff at a briefing Wednesday. “We think we have maybe two more weeks of this, but it’s not sustainable.”  While San Antonio hospital officials would not discuss specific job offers or pay rates, nearly all hospitals have started to offer incentive pay for nurses

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By Laura Garcia of The San Antonio Express-News.

This is a good example of what economists call a "compensating wage differential." That is when a worker gets paid more for doing unpleasant or dangerous work. That is necessary to get enough people to do those jobs.

Excerpts from the article:

"Are hospitals willing to pay nurses more to work during the COVID-19 crisis?

They might not have a choice if the number of hospitalizations continues to rise.

“They are stretched to the limit,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff at a briefing Wednesday. “We think we have maybe two more weeks of this, but it’s not sustainable.”

 While San Antonio hospital officials would not discuss specific job offers or pay rates, nearly all hospitals have started to offer incentive pay for nurses willing to work extra shifts during the coronavirus crisis."

Some hospitals "are cross-training workers and redeploying them from other departments throughout the hospital." (this cross-training is costly and it reflects the "law of increasing opportunity" cost that I discussed a few days ago where it gets more costly to produce more of a good, like, in this case, more nursing care-the cross-training means that it is getting more costly)

"Christus Health, a nonprofit hospital operator with three Christus Santa Rosa Hospital locations and the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, is offering supplemental staffing bonuses to meet the increased demand."

"Methodist also hired contract nurses who are expected to arrive in the next week or so.

These temporary jobs can be lucrative, with nurses making well over $100,000 per year. Offers from staffing agencies often include uniform and travel reimbursement, bonuses, health insurance and 401(k) benefits.

One recruiter on Facebook was looking for registered nurses to work in a intensive care unit for the next eight weeks in San Antonio. The job would pay $3,380 a week, or $65 an hour, plus weekly stipends of $450 for housing and $200 for meals.

The pay is attractive in part because the work is risky.

Health care workers are at higher risk of infection because of the prolonged, close contact with COVID-19 patients, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cindy Zolnierek, CEO of the Texas Nurses Association, said while the organization supports “hazard pay” for nurses, incentive pay programs fail to recognize the long-term nature of the COVID-19 crisis."

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