In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the detrimental impact it has had and continues to have on nursing and personal care homes, Pennsylvania will give $175 million to health systems across the state.
A plan to outsource testing and infection control was proposed by former House Speaker Mike Turzai, in consultation with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Governor Tom Wolf signed the proposal after it was approved by lawmakers in late May. Backed by federal stimulus dollars, the plan is set to come to fruition for many nursing and personal care homes in July.
Additionally, the Department of Health announced they have paid a Montgomery County staffing agency $1 million to hire and deploy small teams of healthcare workers to provide additional support and consultation to homes in need. Montgomery County is one of many counties that has been hit extremely hard with COVID-19 cases since the initial outbreak.
The efforts of these small teams will aim to implement best practices for infection control and expansion of testing “to include asymptomatic staff and residents” — a vital need to keep employees with no visible symptoms from infecting residents. Statewide, there are approximately 1,900 long-term care facilities, including nearly 700 nursing homes. The new health collaboratives are based on its existing Educational Support and Clinical Coaching Program, a volunteer network of seven health systems which provide guidance and educational support to personal care homes and assisted living facilities.
President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, Zach Shamberg, said he’s pleased with the plan and he continues to push for better collaboration with state government, the prioritization of personal protective equipment (PPE), and access to testing supplies. Shamberg is hopeful that the staffing agency, General Healthcare Resources, will provide “desperately” needed support.
Mike Dunagan of General Healthcare Resources said the company’s partnership with the state began on June 4th with training classes, followed by the deployment of 60 people to nine homes over the past couple weeks.
Each health system’s participation in the existing program is on a voluntary basis. Therefore, the health collaboratives, once designated, will receive a portion of the $175 million based on how many facilities and residents are in their region.
Information provided by the PA Post.