By Peter D'Oench

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The chief of human resources for the Jackson Health System says as many as 200 nursing jobs are available at their 7 hospitals.

Julie Staub, an Executive Vice President and Chief of Human Resources, tells CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “We have more than 3500 nurses all over the Jackson Health System but right now 150 to 200 nursing jobs are available. Depending on education and experience, and this is subject to what is happening with the collective bargaining unit, nurses straight out of school typically earn $27 to $28 an hour and can earn as much as $40 an hour.”

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“We can not hire nurses fast enough,” she said. “Back in December to February, we saw an influx of folks wanting to go follow traveling nurses for the dollars in another part of the country. We are seeing a little bit of that today but not as much.”

The issue surfaced this past week during a roundtable discussion between Governor Ron DeSantis and Chief Executive Officers from hospitals from all around the state.

Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya said the Jackson Health system was losing nurses to higher-paying jobs in other areas and said they were stepping up efforts to recruit nurses from nursing schools.

Staub also said, “We are constantly recruiting during career fairs and coming up with campaigns to try to attract nurses not just to Jackson but to the South Florida area. We are also looking to bring in traveling nurses to help in this short-term period. I would tell our current nursing staff they are doing an amazing job and they are continuing to take on extra shifts with extra shift bonuses.”

D’Oench also spoke with 32-year-old Registered Nurse Osvaldo Pineiro, who has been on the job inside the COVID ICU since May 3rd.

He said the 12-hour shifts are challenging but he said, “We just have to keep in mind that we are helping patients during the more vulnerable moments in their lives. This is something where when patients are in need of help you are there for them and the community and not everybody has that opportunity in their lives.”

Pineiro applauds the efforts to recruit more staff.

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“I feel that it’s great,” he said. “ We need doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists. The more eyes and hands we have the better it is for the patients.”

New nurses will have to abide by the mandate that all employees and vendors be vaccinated by August 23rd.

Pineiro said he did not have an opinion about that. Sixty percent of the employees in the Jackson Health System have been vaccinated.

Pineiro did say “I believe vaccines help most patients. I am vaccinated and we are seeing in the ICU that the sicker patients are unvaccinated.

Meanwhile, inside Memorial West Hospital, a cafeteria and conference room have been converted to a makeshift area for patients who do not have the coronavirus.

Jennifer Senior, the Clinical Manager of the ICU at Memorial Hospital Pembroke, said they are trying to take measures to motivate their hard-working nurses.

“We are trying to help them as much as we can with their patient care and offering them bonuses and extra meals. Some of them are very sad. It is not nice to lose a 27-year-old patient especially when they are not vaccinated and if they had been vaccinated there would have been the potential to save them.”

Senior is taking steps to keep her own morale higher.

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“I am taking my own advice and taking my vitamins and wearing my mask,” she said.

Peter D'Oench