UPMC to launch first in-house travel staffing agency to combat nurse shortage


BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — 22 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, UPMC said their biggest issue isn’t the number of beds or access to equipment, it’s the staffing shortage. An in-house travel staffing agency is their next step in finding a solution.

“This is a solution, it’s not the one solution that is going to fix everything,” said John Galley, chief human resources officer for UPMC.

UPMC said they’re believed to be the first health system in the country to create this opportunity.

“No ones done this before,” said Holly Lorenz, chief nurse executive for UPMC. “I think it’s one of the biggest game changers as a response to what’s been happening nationally.”

The in-house travel agency will launch on January 2 with a goal of hiring 800 nurses and surgical technicians who can work across UPMC’s facilities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York.

Where will these 800 employees come from? UPMC said they’re looking to bring back former employees who have left and attract nurses who are interested in working across UPMC’s locations.

“We’re coming up with a competitive rate, matched with what we believe is a best benefit package and a preferred place to work,” said Lorenz.

UPMC said they currently pay outside agencies between $200-280 an hour for their nurses. An in-house agency will eliminate external fees with pay going directly to employees.

Their offer: $85 an hour for nurses, $63 an hour for surgical technicians, and $2,880 every 6 weeks for travel expenses.

“Whether you live in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, or any point in between, we have a role for you at UPMC,” said Galley. “It gives our employees choice which is something they are also always seeking, and provides a different type of model for us for the future.” 

UPMC said they’ve received positive feedback from their current employees and a few applications already.

They said this will be in-place for at least the next few years.

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