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States announce funding for Covid healthcare staffing

Healthcare Staffing Report

States announce funding for Covid healthcare staffing

September 8, 2021
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State leaders across the US are providing financial support for healthcare facilities to use for staff to help during the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s a rundown of some recent announcements.

Arizona

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced the state will spend $60 million for temporary staffing at healthcare facilities.

“This funding opportunity will decrease stress on existing hospital staff, increase hiring opportunities and decrease the risk of Covid-19 hospitalizations in Arizona,” Ducey said in a statement.

Ducey’s office noted hospitals are experiencing high patient volumes leading to staffing challenges for doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and other healthcare providers. At the same time, high demand across the US for these professionals has caused prices to increase.

Overall, Ducey’s office said the state has dedicated $145 million to support hospital staffing during the pandemic. This includes $25 million dedicated in November and $60 million in December.

Connecticut

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Sept. 3 signed an executive order that revives the state’s nurses aides program that was used last year.

The order permits nursing homes to hire temporary nurse aides, who will provide nursing-related services to residents. Temporary nurse aides will not be permitted to perform services that require a license, but will help provide services to residents who are not Covid-19 positive, assure adequate staffing at long-term care facilities, and enable permanent nursing home staff to focus care on patients who have tested positive for Covid-19.

The governor also extended the deadline for long-term care facility staff to receive their first Covid-19 vaccination to Sept. 27 from the previous deadline of Sept. 7.

Georgia

Georgia will spend another $125 million to increase staffing services at hospitals amid a Covid-19 surge, on top of $500 million it has already allocated, The Associated Press reported. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp made the announcement during a press conference. The extra funding will pay for another 1,500 healthcare workers through the start of December.

Hawaii

Hawaii will receive more than 500 healthcare professionals from out of state to help fight Covid-19, the Hawaii Department of Public Health announced. The state is receiving $46 million in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to bring travel healthcare workers through ProLink Healthcare, a Cincinnati-based healthcare staffing firm.

“The needs in the hospitals have dramatically increased primarily because of the highly transmissible Delta variant,” said Hilton Raethel, CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii. “Our emergency rooms, medical-surge units and intensive care units are being overwhelmed with patients who have not been vaccinated.”

The Department of Public Health reported the majority of positions are for medical-surgical nurses, critical care nurses and telemetry nurses. The remaining positions include respiratory therapists, emergency department nurses, medical technicians and behavioral health technicians.

Last fall, Hawaii brought in more than 200 out-of-state nurses and other specialists over a four-month period to supplement local staff. Dr. Elizabeth Char, director of the Department of Health, served as lead medical advisor on the initial contract with ProLink Healthcare. The earlier contract with ProLink has been extended to meet the current medical surge staffing needs.

Missouri

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced in August that the state has committed $15 million to provide extra healthcare staffing in the state in the fight against Covid-19.

“We’ve consistently heard from our health care partners that staffing is one of the biggest challenges we continue to face,” Governor Parson said. “Our health care workers have been on the frontlines since day one, and our goal is to provide continued support with this additional effort.”

The $15 million is going to Missouri-licensed or CMS-certified critical access, acute care and long-term care hospitals. Another $15 million is targeted for establishing five to eight monoclonal antibody infusion stations.

Nebraska

Nebraska Gov. Peter Ricketts announced two moves - including declaring a hospital staffing emergency - aimed at making it easier for hospitals in the state to increase staffing amid Covid-19.

The first is an executive order focused on expanding the pool of eligible healthcare professionals. It declares a hospital staffing emergency and authorizes the credentialing of retired or inactive healthcare professionals, defers certain continuing education requirements and allows new healthcare providers seeking a license to begin practice. The executive order is effective immediately and will remain in effect through the end of this year.

In addition, Ricketts issued a directed health measure that suspends certain elective surgeries that can wait four weeks or longer without substantially changing a patient’s outcome. The measure took effect Aug. 30 and will remain in effect through Sept. 30.

Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott officially announced in August that the Texas Department of State Health Services will use staffing firms to provide medical personnel from out of state to Texas healthcare facilities to help fight Covid-19.

The move was part of a larger action to address the rise of Covid-19 in the state. Abbott also sent a letter to the Texas Hospital Association asking hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective procedures when the delay will not result in the loss of life or the deterioration of a patient’s condition.

He also called on the Department of State Health Services and the Texas Division of Emergency Management to open additional Covid-19 antibody infusion center across the state to treat Covid-19 patients. Abbott also asked the agencies to increase vaccination availability.