PITTSBURGH, Pa. (WHTM) — Hospitals across the Midstate continue to deal with staffing shortages.

UPMC has a new short-term solution by creating its own in-house nurse traveling agency.

“We believe UPMC is the first health system in the nation to launch their own in-house travel staffing agency,” said Holly Lorenz, chief nurse executive for the UPMC Center for Nursing Excellence.

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Lorenz hopes to not only get new employees but attract those who have left to come back, giving current nurses more breathing room.

UPMC like every other hospital system in Pennsylvania is facing a nursing shortage. Many have left for outside agencies.

“We could hire an agency nurse for around $85 an hour. That’s what we would pay to the agency. That nurse was probably making $50 an hour or so,” said John Galley, UPMC senior vice president, and chief human resources officer. “Now we’re finding rates that are between $200 and $280 an hour.”

Galley said that’s unsustainable. The UPMC in-house program will be competitive, offering $85 an hour for nurses and $63 an hour for surgical technicians, plus a travel allowance.

“Our initial goal is to recruit UPMC nurses who have left to go to go to these agencies because now they can travel within UPMC and essentially have the same economic package,” Galley said.

Typically traveling nurse assignments range from eight to 13 weeks. UPMC’s will be six weeks.

“Whereas ours is a little shorter and allows people that can see what UPMC is across the 40 different hospitals and we actually think having a shorter assignment will be more attractive to individuals,” Lorenz said.

The biggest goal is to help current nurses dealing with burnout, a lot of overtime, and irregular schedules.

“Bringing these supplemental nurses in, if you will, will help our core nurses and that’s really why we’re doing it,” Galley said.

UPMC wants to get 800 traveling nurses to start across its 40 hospitals.

They expect some in-house nurses to apply, but say it won’t affect patient care.