Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) on Friday announced the reallocation of $12.3 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund for the recruitment of out-of-state travel nurses to temporarily serve in Alabama hospitals as the state contends with widespread nursing shortage.
The governor praised the state’s recent uptick in vaccinations but cited the need for increased hospital staff as the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to impact the state.
“I’m pleased to see more folks getting vaccinated, but we are still in the thick of COVID-19 and our hospitals are overwhelmed,” said Ivey. “In consideration of the current surge of the virus and the strain on our dedicated healthcare professionals, I have directed the $12.3 million of CARES Act funding be reallocated to recruit more trained staff to our nursing corps. Until our vaccination rates rise and our COVID-19 hospitalization rates fall, we will need the extra support these nurses provide.”
In consideration of the current surge of #COVID19 & the strain on our dedicated healthcare professionals, I’ve directed $12.3 million of #CARESAct funding be reallocated to recruit more trained staff to our nursing corps. @ALPublicHealth #alpoliticshttps://t.co/Y7QWXfaJkS
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) September 3, 2021
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, in coordination with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), designated the nursing shortage Alabama’s most urgent need. ADPH will work with the Alabama Hospital Association to develop a process to recruit these travel nurses.
Harris hailed Ivey’s willingness to address the issue and said the timing is “crucial” in the state’s efforts to mitigate the stress of understaffing.
“ADPH would like to express its gratitude to Governor Ivey and State Finance Director Poole for providing this support to Alabama hospitals, which are seeing unprecedented numbers of patients infected with Covid-19” said Harris. “This funding comes at a crucial time and will make a tremendous difference in increasing the nursing workforce in our state.”
The $12.3 million reallocation is from Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funds that were previously obligated but not reimbursed among the various approved expenditures.
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) touted the work of health care workers across the state in their fight against the ongoing pandemic.
“The on-going coronavirus pandemic has presented struggles for many across the state, but perhaps no group has faced as many challenges or stood taller than the frontline medical workers in hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices across the state,” said McCutcheon.
He added, “Our nurses are forced to set aside concerns and worries about their own health as they tend to the patients who are fighting a highly-contagious virus that has already taken so many from us. It seems altogether fitting that Alabama is devoting a portion of its CARES Act dollars to a group that has demonstrated it cares the most – the nurses who provide aid to the sick and injured in the most remote rural communities and the largest urban centers alike.”
Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) also praised Ivey’s reallocation of funding.
“The coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented need for quality nurses at hospitals across our state. Alabama’s nurses, working on the front lines to save lives and care for those struggling with this virus, have been nothing short of heroic throughout this pandemic,” said Reed. “I have heard from leaders across our state – especially from those in harder hit areas – that this is a critical, much-needed resource. I am glad that these relief dollars will go towards alleviating some of the stress put on our hospital system and provide hospitalized Alabamians with the care they need.”
The state of Alabama received approximately $1.9 billion of federal CARES Act funding to combat COVID-19.
The funds were designated as follows:
- $300 million to reimburse state agencies for expenses directly related to the coronavirus outbreak.
- $250 million to reimburse counties and cities for coronavirus expenses.
- $250 million to deliver health care and related services to residents.
- $300 to support citizens, businesses, and non-profit and faith-based organizations impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
- $53 million for remote work and public access expenses incurred by state government, including the Legislature.
- $300 million for technology and infrastructure expenses related to remote learning.
- $200 million for reimbursement of costs to the Department of Corrections incurred because of the outbreak.
- $10 million to the reimbursement of costs to ensure access to courts during the pandemic.
- $5 million to reimburse the State General Fund for supplemental appropriations to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL