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Governor McKee, Whole of Government COVID Response Team Announce New Initiatives to Support Hospital Staffing Capacity Issues

RHODE ISLAND, January 13 - PROVIDENCE, RI – Joined by members of his whole of government COVID response team, Governor Dan McKee today announced several initiatives address the staffing capacity issues facing many of our state's health care facilities.

The Governor had previously convened a team within his Administration to focus on solutions to address hospital staffing needs. The group is made up of the Governor's Office, Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), Department of Labor and Training (DLT), Department of Administration (DOA) and Department of Business Regulation (DBR). Over the last several weeks, this team has been engaging with hospital administrators, the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, various physician associations, federal partners, Medicaid, insurance providers, institutions of higher education, health care unions, and various stakeholders to address immediate, intermediate, and long-term solutions to address the current hospital staffing crisis.

The latest update included the following actions taken by the Administration:

- Enhancing and expediting emergency temporary licenses for recently graduated nurses: Emergency licenses will be provided to recent health care graduates to allow them to immediately join the workforce while working to obtain full licensure. This announcement was followed by the launch of a coordinated effort between the State, institutions of higher education, and health care employers to expedite this process and conduct targeted outreach to hundreds of recently graduated nurses. This week, the Administration organized two virtual job fairs for these graduates – one for Eleanor Slater Hospital and the Rhode Island Veterans Home on Friday, January 14 and another for Lifespan on Thursday, January 13. At each job fair, there will be a representative present to help graduates fill out the necessary temporary license applications. To sign up for the Eleanor Slater and Veterans Home Job fair, visit here. To sign up for the Lifespan job fair, visit here. In addition, we're also working to mobilize senior nursing students from CCRI to begin their clinical rotations earlier than the start of the next semester to provide support when and where it's needed immediately.

- Deploying the Rhode Island National Guard to provide hospital staffing relief: Last week, the Governor announced the mobilization of 180 RING members to support testing, vaccination and hospital relied strategies. Today, the Governor shared additional information about a strategy to send 60 RING members to Butler Hospital which will enable the hospital to increase its capacity to accept patient transfers, allowing other hospitals to send non-critical psychiatric patients to Butler and free up more beds at their facilities. RING, RIDOH and RIEMA are continuing to work together to conduct outreach to other hospitals in an effort to coordinate additional support.

- Expediting patient discharge and placement approvals: The Administration is coordinating with health insurance providers and Medicaid to temporarily expedite the process of hospital patient discharge and placement approvals to rehabilitation or nursing homes to alleviate hospital capacity and emergency room backup due to bed availability.

- Engaging local emergency medical workers to support hospital staffing needs: The Governor's Office is conducting outreach to municipal partners that provide emergency medical services to our cities and towns along with hospital administrators to determine the logistics for temporary supplemental employment of our licensed emergency responders in area hospitals.