Wisconsin Advocate Aurora nurses being deployed to Illinois hospitals

About 20 nurses sent across state lines so far

Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee.
Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee.

Last updated on May 6th, 2020 at 11:17 am

Milwaukee- and Downers Grove, Illinois-based Advocate Aurora Health is deploying some nurses from the network’s Wisconsin facilities to its Illinois hospitals that are seeing higher COVID-19 patient volumes.

So far, about 20 nurses with dual state licenses have been sent to several hospital sites across state lines, and more are expected to be deployed according to the need. 

Advocate Aurora said nurses who don’t have dual state licenses have been applying for temporary licenses to respond to the need in Illinois.

“We are grateful for the unwavering commitment of our team members and their willingness to step up where needed during this crisis. With more than 22,000 nurses in our system, we communicate with all hospitals to understand their demands and position team members where they are needed most,” the system said in a statement. 

As of May 1, Advocate Aurora reported 3,010 active COVID-19 cases in Illinois, including 632 inpatients, and 342 fatalities. In Wisconsin, the system has 972 active cases, including 112 inpatient, and has reported 58 fatalities. At that time, 2,434 patients had been discharged across the system’s two states.

In a recent interview with BizTimes Milwaukee, Advocate Aurora’s chief nursing officer Mary Beth Kingston said the pandemic – and the suspension of nonemergency procedures to reserve capacity for seriously ill COVID-19 patients – has prompted the health system to reassign health care workers to different areas.

“Our nursing education and professional development teams (have identified) individuals from areas where we’re seeing less volume – for example, maybe at the time it would be our surgical areas or ambulatory areas – and work with people to say, ‘OK What is your experience before your current job? What’s your current job? And what could you assist with?’” Kingston said. “We’ve been able to redeploy people and have had great feedback about that.”

The health system is currently offering special pay practices for employees who work in dedicated COVID-19 units, emergency departments or units that have a COVID-19 patient population of 50% or more. It has not disclosed the amounts of the special pay practices.

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Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism. In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeing live music.

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