JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri is closer to having the vaccine in hind than extra health care workers in hospitals, according to the Missouri Hospitals Association.
With the COVID vaccine due in the state in less than 10 days, the Missouri Hospitals Association (MHA) said hospitals are preparing for a surge this winter. The announcement of the national company Vizient coming to Missouri to help with hospital staffing and capacity is less than a week old, but the reason the extra staff isn’t in the state yet is because of paperwork.
Twelve hospitals across the state will soon have extra hands to help treat patients after the state hired Vizient to help.
“Certainly, we need people now, but all indications are we are going to need them even more in the weeks ahead as we move through the holidays,” said Dave Dillion, spokesman for MHA. “The state has its contract, but hospitals are still in the process of working with the vendor, Vizient, to put together their own.”
Last week, Governor Mike Parson announced the state hired the health care company to help with hospitals staffing and capacity.
“The state will fund the first phase of this project through the end of the year using CARES Act funding,” Parson said. “Our hospital partners will fund the remainder.”
Dillion said the state has set aside $17 million for the contract. While there’s not an estimated amount for the entire contract, hospitals who use the service will pay for it.
“At least it wasn’t written in the initial contract with the total rate would be per staff hour,” Dillon said. “The real challenge at this point is to finalize the paperwork minutia so that we can get to the essence of the challenge, which is really going to before finding the health care workers and getting them here to Missouri.”
In the contract, Vizient can provide up to 600 hospital beds and more than 700 skilled workers to staff them.
“These are beds in units that are sidelined currently because they don’t have the staff to operate them,” Dillion said. “Those are the hospitals and the locations that will be priorities.”
Those 12 hospitals are:
- North Kansas City Hospital
- St. Luke’s Health System
- Liberty Hospital
- BJC Healthcare
- St. Luke’s in Chesterfield
- Northeast regional medical center
- Mosiac Life Care
- Hannibal Regional Health Care System
- SSM Health Care
- Southeast Health
- Cox Health
Parson said the 12-week partnership will run through February but can be extended if needed.
Dillion said the holdup is paperwork.
“The delay while necessary for the purposes of getting all the pieces are in the place is unfortunate, we are not done with it and seeing these people delivered to these front lines,” he said.
Health workers who come to the state with licenses from other states will be allowed to work in Missouri without a state license, said MHA CEO Herb Kuhn. This is after Parson waived the regulation earlier this year.
The Department of Health and Senior Services to see what they know about when hospitals can expect Vizient staff on their campuses. A spokesperson for the department said they are hoping to have the staff around the end of the year.