Overwhelmed by working conditions on the island, nurses consider a career in the United States: “Many have to choose to emigrate”

Overwhelmed by working conditions on the island, nurses consider a career in the United States: “Many have to choose to emigrate”

Some of the nurses who attended a recruitment event coordinated by the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, Florida on Tuesday, agreed that the working conditions they face in the island’s hospitals, such as double shifts and overload of patients, end forcing them to look for better opportunities outside of Puerto Rico.

“Many nurses do not have the benefit of having a medical plan and have to wait nine months for one, and they are people who work in healthcare. On the other hand, here (Mount Sinai) they offer you a medical plan, more benefits, the pay is much higher and they give you a recruitment bonus of almost $20,000.”shared a nurse, with 23 years of experience and who preferred not to identify himself.

“Hospitals (in Puerto Rico) have not been able to honor salaries from abroad, and many (nurses) have to choose to emigrate. Also, the condition of the number of patients assigned to each nurse. There (in the United States), The Joint Commission regulates that,” he mentioned, noting that he has sometimes seen nurses with up to 15 patients in a shift.

The new day He tried to interview the coordinator of the event – ​​which continues today, Wednesday, from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino, in San Juan –, or gain access, but it was impossible. The organizers indicated, through the hotel’s administrative staff, that they were uncomfortable with the presence of the press, so they were not allowed to be near the information table or enter the room.

In addition to the $20,000 bonus for just signing with them, the nurse indicated that private non-profit institution also helps with relocation expenses to be able to move to Florida faster, where the Puerto Rican population is increasing. If recruited, the man plans to move first and then take his mother.

Leilanie Quinones said that she is not accepted in many jobs in Puerto Rico because she is overqualified.

(Xavier Araujo)

He also attended the recruitment event Leilanie Quinonesnurse and head of family, who has been in a hospital in Rio Piedras for almost eight months, but lives in Fajardo. Since there are not many patients in the institution where he works, she works only two days a week (her hours were reduced) and the salary she receives is not enough. When looking for other positions in healthcare facilities, she always receives the response that she is overqualified, since she has a master’s degree in Nursing Education.

“Due to the current crisis, unfortunately, many nurses have to go to the United States. Especially me because I’m overqualified. I go, I apply, and they don’t accept me,” she lamented.

“Specifically, we have to take many certifications that, in truth, the country is not paying us. In the United States, we do get paid for certifications. Mostly, they are going to Miami. Recruiters look for Puerto Rican nurses because we work in everything, despite the little salary they give us,” he added.

A trend that has been going on for 20 years

The president of College of Nursing Professionals of Puerto Rico, Susan Figueroa Gonzalezhe stated, in an interview with The new daythat the flight of these professionals to the United States occurred 20 years ago, but with past health emergencies, such as pandemic of COVID-19has increased substantially.

“The leak has been going on for a long time. “The pandemic situation made it worse and motivated people to look for places of employment in the United States, where there were fewer patients.”acknowledged Figueroa Gonzalez.

At the same time, he admitted that Many health professionals, on the other hand, are returning because the salary offer does not match the costs of living..

The organization’s spokesperson estimated that, in Puerto Rico, there are close to 40,000 nursing professionals working, and regretted that many of the hospital employees in the HIMA San Pablo Group have been fired after its closure was announced.

“One of the situations is the overload of patients and the conditions of employment, such as double shifts. It was not until the first of July that the increase occurred,” he explained.

Approval of bill urgently needed

On the other hand, Figueroa Gonzalez urged legislators to address Senate Bill 1239, which seeks to guarantee the optimal environment and working conditions for nursing staff, such as limiting the number of patients per person.

Among its provisions, the measure – authored by seven senators of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), Citizen Victory Movement (MVC) and the independent legislator Jose Vargas Vidot– would establish a limit of two patients for each nurse in critical care units, as well as one patient for each nurse in operating room units.

When endorsing the legislative piece, the president of the College indicated that they are visiting offices in the Senate to explain the benefits of its approval. The 1239 also has the approval of the Health Departmenthe pointed out.

We will begin on the last Wednesday of this month (September 28) public hearings at the College headquarters. We want to listen to the nurses to see what their employment conditions are and then take that to the senators. We want action to be taken on the complaints”, he noted.

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