NEW YORK POST
Hundreds of nurses are pouring into New York City from across the country drawn by a desire to save lives — and paychecks reaching $100 an hour.
Michael Fazio, the head of the Prime Staffing agency, said he was trying to fill 3,000 nursing slots for New York-Presbyterian, Mount Sinai, NYU Langone and Bellevue, along with hospitals in New Jersey.
“They’re all crisis needs. We’re just trying to get them the support,” he said. “The focus right now is in the emergency department and ICU.”
The hospitals have upped their pay rates, with the most experienced nurses getting top dollar.
Fazio said some of the nurses are tripling their salaries.
“I spoke to some nurses in the South. Their hourly rate was like $29 an hour. They’re literally saying ‘Man, I gotta do it for my own family.’ One woman said to me, ‘I’ve got a kid going to college. I’m coming!'” Fazio said.
To sweeten the offers, Fazio’s agency will send breakfasts and lunches to the nurses, arrange grocery deliveries and provide car services to take them to work. He offers housing stipends or puts the nurses up in hotels.
The state has ordered hospitals to increase capacity — which requires increased staffing — and has relaxed rules for nurses who don’t need a New York license to practice here during the deadly outbreak.
“This is an unprecedented public health crisis, and our hospitals will spare no effort to ensure they have the staff they need to care for their patients,” said Brian Conway, a spokesman for the Greater New York Hospital Association.
Gina Rao, a 34-year-old from Miami, said she drove 24 hours straight to get to New Jersey where she is working in the ICU at University Hospital in Newark.
She left her two kids in Florida and gave up a full-time job paying $36.75 an hour. She said she is earning nearly triple that here for a 13-week assignment.
Rao said she was not afraid to pitch in despite reports of hospitals being flooded with seriously ill patients and nurses sounding alarms about a lack of proper protective equipment.
“I really and truly want to help,” she said. “Why would we be scared to go out there and help when it’s what we signed up to do.”