MICHIGAN (WNEM) – A mid-Michigan nurse who has been battling COVID-19 for months says the virus is making her job much worse than before.

Burnout and staffing shortages are pushing many to look for traveling nurses – healthcare workers who move around the country, filling in the gaps.

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When hospitals are under siege from COVID-19, they bring in the calvary in traveling nurses.

Lydia Mobley is a traveling nurse currently in Traverse City.

“I’ve now done 16 contracts and before that I was a staff nurse for several years. So, you get a shorter orientation period and you’re expected to basically hit the ground running. Which right now, is so important to be able to just start helping,” Mobley said.

Before then, Mobley was in Southfield, Cadillac, California, and back to Lansing.

Traveling healthcare workers typically sign on to six to 10-week contracts at various hospitals around the country.

“It’s been really disheartening to see, to see that Michigan is one of the worst states. Because I have friends at most of the hospitals because I’ve worked there in the past,” Mobley said.

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Though traveling nurses don’t get benefits from the hospitals they work at, the pay can be triple or even quadruple what a staff nurse makes.

“Those nurses were so grateful that somebody was there because they had been dealing with this since the start. Again, that was in Lansing and that was the warmest welcome I’ve ever received as a travel nurse,” Mobley said.

Being on the frontlines can sometimes be dangerous.

“Most recently on my contract I was assaulted by… he was 6-foot tall and 225 and felt it was OK to punch me in the ribs. Simply because I had asked him to stop pulling his IV,” Mobley said.

While unfortunately, the assaults are nothing new, Mobley said COVID-19 appears to be making things worse.

“We’d have three deaths in just the first four hours of the shift, you know. And you can’t see that much death and not come out changed,” Mobley said.

Mobley said there is even local traveling nurses now who really just work at one hospital. She encourages any health care worker to check it out.

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