“We were extremely pleased to hear the SPARK committee approval of $50 million for a hospital employee retention plan,” Cindy Samuelson, senior vice president of member and public relations at Kansas Hospital Association, told The Center Square. “This is an important tool for hospitals to retain health care workers in these times when hospital staffing is a critical concern.”
Though there are enough beds in the state to handle the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, there are not enough nurses to attend to those beds. The stress is so great that many nurses have chosen early retirement or opted out of acute care entirely.
“Many of our nurses are risking their lives every day to save Kansans from COVID-19—and the immense strain on our hospitals is causing them to be exhausted and disheartened,” Gov. Laura Kelly said in a release. “They’re taking on extra shifts and caring for more patients than they can handle—and it’s our responsibility to give them the support they need. Frontline nurses need this funding to continue battling the COVID-19 surge here at home.”
Samuelson said hospitals that are eligible for the program include those that have an emergency department and are defined as “general” or “critical access” under KSA 65-425. The hospital allocation will be based upon the total licensed and ICU beds, and will factor in a staffing component. The funding can be utilized for either “premium pay” as defined by ARPA or for funding a program designed by the hospital. Eligible hospitals may be able to use these funds to retain existing clinical staff (nurses and other frontline care employees), re-hire retirees, and recently graduated nursing students.
The program will be administered by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. A specific date has not yet been confirmed as to when the funds will be made available.
By Kimberly James