Over $75M of Delaware's COVID relief funds to help hospitals, healthcare facilities staff up
Local hospitals and healthcare facilities spending more to attract staff during the pandemic will get relief.
Gov. John Carney announced Wednesday the state is putting more than $75 million of its American Rescue Plan funding toward helping hospitals and healthcare facilities recruit and retain frontline staff.
“That’s exactly how this federal funding was meant to be used, and it will help these industries stabilize their workforces so we can continue fighting the COVID-19 pandemic at full strength,” said Governor Carney in a statement.
Staffing has been an issue in the healthcare industry before the pandemic, and it's only gotten worse over the last year and a half.
“It has been a very difficult environment, first with the risk of infection … but then the great number of patients who have been in very difficult situations, symptomatically,” said Delaware Healthcare Association President Wayne Smith. “This has resulted in, unfortunately, an outflow of some of these key clinicians from the industry. ”
Smith says this means hospitals are paying more.
“The shortages are simple economics; when you have less supply—in this case, less supply of nurses and other hospital employees, the price goes up, as people bid to try and get employees to try to respond to notices of vacancies,” Smith said.
Smith says the federal money can reimburse hospitals for some signing bonuses and pay-differentials already paid.
Cheryl Heiks, executive director of the Delaware Health Care Facilities Association, which represents the long-term care industry, said in an email the money will help facilities “continue the goal of providing quality care” amidst “unprecedented challenges.”
The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) also plans to use American Rescue Plan Act funds for Medicaid programs to pay $1,000 bonuses to Direct Support Professionals who provide home and community-based services to Delawareans with disabilities, to further recruitment and retention of this workforce.
DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik said in a statement that the bonuses will be made available first to Direct Support Professionals supporting Delawareans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“Maintaining the integrity of this workforce ensures continued availability of this community lifeline for the individuals and families who rely on DSPs every single day,” Magarik said.