On Friday, lawmakers in Oregon gave their approval to more than $40 million in emergency financing to reduce the number of patients waiting in the state’s hospitals.
The largest portion of the funds will be allocated to long-term care institutions, which are places where sick people who no longer require hospital care can go to recuperate. Due to a lack of available staff, those facilities are unable to take on any new patients, meaning that patients are forced to remain in hospitals.
The majority of the $28.4 million budgeted for the Department of Human Services in the state will be distributed to these facilities either in the form of direct staffing subsidies or incentive payments for accepting patients who have been discharged from hospitals.
Another fourteen million dollars from the Oregon Health Authority will be distributed to hospitals in the state in order to cover the costs of incentive payments to care facilities that accept patients who have been discharged from hospitals as well as the costs of temporary nurses who are necessary in order to maintain adequate staffing levels in hospitals.
Hospital administrators in Oregon have reported that it has been difficult for them to recruit new nurses and other support staff and to keep the ones they already have. As a result, they have been forced to pay premium rates to travel nurses in order to meet even the most fundamental staffing requirements.
In the meantime, they have not been able to speedily discharge patients because all of the long-term care institutions are at capacity. As a direct consequence of this, patients in the emergency department are required to wait for many hours in the event that a bed becomes available.
The decline in COVID-19-related hospitalizations has not been accompanied by an improvement in the financial situation of the nation’s hospitals, which have suffered instead from deterioration as a result of increased expenses and decreased income. They considered the additional state funds to be a temporary measure.
According to Becky Hultberg, the Chief Executive Officer of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, “This financing will assist relieve the capacity issue in our hospitals, protecting access to lifesaving care.”
The emergency board is responsible for approving money for emergency needs that arise in the time period between annual legislative sessions and that are not capable of being met by the budgets that have already been authorized for state departments. When they meet again in 2023, lawmakers say they intend to address the factors that contribute to the understaffing in the healthcare sector.
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