Missouri has hired a national company to increase the state’s hospital workforce through February. The move comes as many Missouri hospitals continue to juggle staffing shortages and caring for an increasing number of COVID-19 patients.
During a Capitol press conference Wednesday in Jefferson City, Gov. Mike Parson says the plan will help Missouri to deal with an expected surge in COVID-19 cases over the winter.
“We are currently doing all we can at the state level to help with staffing challenges,” he says. “The Missouri National Guard and the Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team are already being utilized and we continue to exhaust all other options.”
Parson says the company, Texas-based Vizient, will work to get hundreds of personnel into Missouri hospitals.
“The plan will allow for up to 760 additional staff across the state, including registered nurses, respiratory therapists, certified nurse assistants,” says Parson.
“When fully deployed, this will add nearly 600 total beds to our statewide bed capacity, including some critical care beds.”
Missouri Hospital Association President and CEO Herb Kuhn says the news come not have come at a better time.
“Throughout the past weeks, the infection rates and hospitalizations for COVID-19 have continued to climb. This is happening in all parts of the state. It’s a challenge in communities both rural and urban and it is affecting the ability of all hospitals from rural hospitals to major urban medical centers,” says Kuhn. “In the days and weeks ahead as these workers arrive, they will provide essential support to our hospitals and health care workers – those who have been on the front lines of care since March. These extra skilled caregivers are essential to address the staff shortages that are presenting a critical threat to hospital capacity to Missouri.”
The governor did not have information about the cost of the effort. Parson says the state will fund the project through the end of this year using CARES Act funding, and hospitals will pay for the rest.
“Funding is always issue when we talk about CARES Act funding,” says Parson. “But I think you also have got to remember whatever the cost is, this is about saving people’s lives.”
Today, Missouri reports more than 305,000 have been infected with COVID-19 since March and 4,043 have died from the virus. Over 2,600 are in a Missouri hospital being treated for the illness.
On a side note, Parson says the state has delivered more than 260,000 cases of personal protective gear to healthcare providers, including 17 million gowns, 14.2 million gloves, 7.2 million surgical masks, 4.9 million N95 masks and 1.4 million face shields. According to Parson, Missouri has also allocated over $5 million to expand broadband for telehealth across the state.
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