Alabama State Nurses Association seeking state funding to retain and recruit nurses

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Nurses and medical staff make their way through the seventh floor COVID-19 unit at East Alabama Medical Center Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in Opelika, Ala. COVID-19 patients occupy most of the beds in ICU in addition to the non-critical patients on the seventh floor. (AP Photo/Julie Bennett)

The Alabama State Nurses Association (ASNA) has asked the state legislature for financial assistance in response to Alabama’s nursing shortage, Yellowhammer News reported.

ASNA is a nursing advocacy organization that aims to advocate for nurses in Alabama. The group is asking the legislature to allocate funding for retainment and recruitment of nursing state, arguing that nurses haven’t seen adequate funding from federal COVID-19 dollars. With turnover rates some of the highest in the nation, ASNA wants to address the lack of funding through the state government.

In September, AL.com reported that a group of UAB nurses briefly refused to clock in for work in protest of long hours driven by the coronavirus pandemic and what they say is unfair pay.

“The COVID pandemic and recent Delta variant surge have stressed the healthcare system and put tremendous pressure on our staff – including nurses on the front lines,” UAB Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Terri Poe said in a statement to AL.com.

According to a recent NSI Nursing Solutions, Inc. report, turnover rates are the highest in the Southeast. Additionally, the RN vacancy rate is higher this year than in 2020, which directly impacts the quality of care and patient experience and leads to high labor costs.

ASNA is also in talks with the Alabama Hospital Association and legislators to obtain funding.

ASNA president Lindsey Harris told Yellowhammer News, “The main concern is that nurses have not received any [funding]. The nurses that we’re referring to are the nurses that have remained here in the state of Alabama, who remain loyal and consistent with their hospitals they’ve been working at prior to and throughout this pandemic. No state funding has gone toward that. State funding has gone toward hospitals; state funding has even gone toward travel nurses – which we have said many times that we definitely appreciate that because it really helps with the hospitals with some of the staffing. But we also understand that it doesn’t help essentially some of the long-term.”

She continued, “When we think of the long-term, we think of the nurses who have been there who have remained in the state of Alabama, we think of recruiting nurses here in the state as well and keeping nurses. We felt like when we applied for some of the CARES Act funding; we felt like that was a way to help really support those nurses that are here and keep those nurses here in the state.”

“Essentially, we want to do something like a retention bonus for those nurses,” said Harris. “We’ve come up with some ideas, but one the major things is possibly a retention bonus for the nurses who have remained here in the state throughout these trying times.”